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The 2nd GOP Gubernatorial Debate: Liveblog

The three Republican gubernatorial candidates — Kay Bailey Hutchison, Debra Medina, and Rick Perry — met for the second, and probably final, time in Dallas tonight. We came, we watched, we wrote, live-blogging all the way.

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UPDATED: The three Republican gubernatorial candidates — Kay Bailey Hutchison, Debra Medina, and Rick Perry — met for their second, and probably final, debate in Dallas tonight. We came, we watched, we wrote, live-blogging all the way.

As we did in the first debate two weeks ago, we're leaving the results on line; this time, it was Emily Ramshaw at the debate in Dallas and, again, Ross Ramsey in Austin, watching TV like a regular voter.

We also teamed with Austin's KXAN-TV to set up a focus group, in an attempt to see the candidates through the eyes of real voters and not campaign people and political reporters. Elise Hu's on that beat — stay tuned for those stories.

By the way, this debate was sponsored by the Dallas-based BELO Corp., owner of The Dallas Morning News and a group of Texas television stations. It'll appear on their stations (WFAA in Dallas, KHOU in Houston, KENS in San Antonio, and KVUE in Austin) and on other stations in other markets. Check local listings.

Unless you're a fan of the story-telling style in the movie "Memento," we'd suggest setting the order to oldest first, so you can read the debate as it unfolded.


by Emily Ramshaw
Greetings from the underbelly of Dallas' Belo campus, home of the second — and final — gubernatorial debate before Texas' GOP primary. The media is back in action, getting organized for a 7 p.m. start time. The weather is COLD; freezing rain and flurries have kept any possible protesters at home. Off to track down the debate set!


by Emily Ramshaw
With under an hour until go-time, WFAA engineers are putting the finishing touches on tonight's set. Members of the governor's staff have been spotted, but there are no other sightings to report yet.


by Ross Ramsey
Note the tab at the top of the posts. You can put our latest stuff at the top or the oldest stuff, whichever you prefer. And as always, the comments are open.

Emily's gonna have better pictures. But at my house, there's cold beer. So there's that.
by Ross Ramsey
Hutchison and Perry are liveblogging, too, and that offers a chance to see their staffs spitting at each other. Hutchison's effort is here. Perry's is here.
by Ross Ramsey
Tonight's panel: WFAA-TV News Anchor John McCaa (moderator); Wayne Slater, The Dallas Morning News; News Anchors Len Cannon, KHOU-TV Houston; Sarah Lucero, KENS-TV San Antonio; and Terri Gruca, KVUE-TV Austin. They're all from Belo outlets.
by Emily Ramshaw
Ross may have beer. But the reporters here have...


by Ross Ramsey
You don't see this every day, especially as the headline of a campaign press release. I quote:

"Debra Medina Calls “Bullshit” on Perry Before Debate"

This could be a very interesting evening.
by Ross Ramsey
The twitterverse is alive. They're using the hashtag #texgovdebate; holler if you know others. Here's a link.
by Ross Ramsey
The rest of Medina's press release:

DALLAS, TX, Friday, January 29, 2010 – According to Governor Rick Perry, under his leadership, Texas is the strongest state in the nation, but the devil is in the details.

In a recent interview at the Blogger’s Summit, Governor Perry said that ending the property tax in Texas was a very intriguing and positive idea. However, he fell short of embracing the end of property tax or any significant change in management of the state’s current fiscal crisis, maintaining that Texas is on the right path. “Well, I’m saying “bullshit” and here’s why,” Medina said:

Not only have we seen loss of jobs in the private sector, the most recent State Comptroller’s Fiscal Notes shows total state tax collections have fallen by over 20%, while funds from the federal government to the state government have risen nearly 34% so far this year over last year, to plug the huge hole in Governor Perry’s state budget.

Furthermore, while Texas families and businesses have been tightening their belts during that same year, and while Governor Perry is boasting about our solid economic footing, he has spent nearly $1.7 Billion in his own department[i], 13.5% more this year than last!

“A double-digit spending increase is not sound management. It feels like state theft, pure and simple. He is taking food from the mouths of Texans,” says Debra Medina. “While the Governor is living high-off-the-hog, Texas families are struggling to feed their children and pay their bills.” (End)
by Ross Ramsey
Don't know what's on your TV, but in Austin, the commercial leading into the debate was a Perry attack on Hutchison.
by Ross Ramsey
Here we go.
by Ross Ramsey
First question to Gov. Rick Perry is from McCaa, about the Trans-Texas Corridor.

Perry: I don't think it was a mistake at all... blames previous governors for "kicking the can down the road."
by Emily Ramshaw
Hutchison says we don't need metal detectors in the Texas capitol, despite last week's shooting. She says the building has been a comfortable place for people to come freely, and that she hopes enhanced security measures won't be necessary.

by Ross Ramsey
McCaa, again, to Medina this time, about her remarks (in the Wall Street Journal) that Perry looks like a "figety frat boy".
by Ross Ramsey
Explaining the rules. This is more complicated than Jeopardy.
by Emily Ramshaw
Wayne Slater asks, how are we going to pay for new transportation infrastructure?
Hutchison says: "TXDOT has mismanaged money." "We need new leadership at TXDOT." "I think we need to assure that TXDOT is talking to local officials. I will reform TXDOT, I will jerk it by its roots to get new leadership at TXDOT."
"If we need new revenue, if we do... I would work with the Legislature. There would never be a tax increase without an election of the people."
by Ross Ramsey
Medina's next on the transportation question, and says the audit's needed and that transportation dollars need to stay in Texas (instead of sent to other states through Washington). She also thinks Texas should decide whether money should go to roads or transit.
by Emily Ramshaw
Perry responds to the same question:

"I'm against the gas tax. Let me go on the record saying that very clearly. How are we going to build these roads? I think private sector involvement. The bottom line of that is, those other roads that are still out there will still be free."
by Ross Ramsey
Hutchison, rebutting: Says Texas gets "a minimum of 92 cents" of its transportation dollars back, and is now getting 100 percent.
by Emily Ramshaw
Next question starts with Medina. "If you're elected, would you sign a bill requiring all state employees to use e-verify to ensure employees are not illegal immigrants?"

She answers no: "I haven't seen ample evidence that e-verify is that fix-all solution." She said it requires employers to jump through hoops law enforcement should be jumping through instead.

by Ross Ramsey
Perry: "E-verify is a federal program, and that's where the problem lies." Uses the question to jump to an attack on Washington, and on Hutchison, who represents Texas there. Says the federal program wouldn't "make a hill's beans of difference." Says the border needs to be secured first.
by Emily Ramshaw
Hutchison, first, says, "shame on the governor" for his comments on sanctuary cities.
"I have voted against funding sanctuary cities at every opportunity."
On the e-verify question, Hutchison notes that she's been a small business owner.
"E-verify is the best system we have that would allow an employer to do what we need to do. We have to give employers the tools to find out if someone is legal."
by Ross Ramsey
Medina rebuttal: "We've had squabbling back and forth between these two and no leadership." She says Texas shouldn't issue drivers' licenses to illegal aliens "and that would go a long way in stopping the hiring."
by Emily Ramshaw
Next Q for Governor P. And it's on how to balance the state budget.
"We want [state agencies] now to start making the reductions in their agency budgets by at least 5 percent."
"In 2003 we faced a $10 billion budget shortfall. With Republican leadership in place in 2003... we balanced that budget without raising taxes."
by Ross Ramsey
KBH, on balancing the budget: Says Perry shouldn't have used federal stimulus money for "recurring expenses." Calls that irresponsible. Commends state leaders, including Perry, for asking state agencies for a five percent budget cut. And, she says, they oughta look at "the governor's enterprise fund" for spending money on "jobs that probably would have come here anyway."
by Emily Ramshaw
Where will Medina make the cuts to balance the budget? (Other than her idea of eliminating property taxes, and hiking the sales tax, of course).

"It's unfortunate the governor has not taken his own fiscal advice. In the executive department in the first fiscal quarter, there was a 14.5 percent increase in spending... when everyone here has been tightening their belts for a year."
by Ross Ramsey
In rebuttal, Perry says the enterprise fund is one of the most successful state programs, bringing more than $16 billion in eco devo and more than 54,600 jobs.
by Ross Ramsey
That's it for the lightning round. Now we're into a "one-on-one" series of questions.
by Ross Ramsey
Our Reeve Hamilton wrote about Hutchison's abortion position in the first debate here.
by Emily Ramshaw
Slater asks Sen. Hutchison to explain her views on abortion — to clear the air.
"Do you support overturning the rule that legalized abortion?"
The answer appears to be "no."
"There is now 40 years of settled law that has started restricting abortion in our country, that has had a good effect."
"Texas is a state, and am a person, who reveres life. The unborn baby should be the priority."
"The restrictions that have become the law of the land are good restrictions."
"I believe in parental consent. I have supported the ban on partial birth abortion."

by Ross Ramsey
Now Slater asks about health care and runs through KBH previous votes, going for prescription drug benefits under Bush, but not reform under Obama. She says the first was "a responsible approach." The second "government takeover of health care," she stands "absolutely and firmly against."
by Ross Ramsey
Austin's KVUE loses the picture for about 20 seconds.
by Texas Tribune Staff
Quick update from our focus group in Austin. I'm with ten undecided GOP voters assembled at a TV station here... the group was extremely quiet but has finally started making some murmurs and noises as Wayne Slater grills KBH on various issues - abortion, resignation, etc.


by Ross Ramsey
Hutchison says there's "not a scintilla of a chance" that a Democrat will be elected to the U.S. Senate from Texas.
by Emily Ramshaw
Will Hutchison resign or not, and if she does, will she put the Republican seat in jeopardy?
"If the people of Massachusetts did what they did... I know a good republican will be elected, and that person will get seniority for two sessions."
by Ross Ramsey
Now, they're playing tape of Medina from a Capitol rally, urging secession. "I've never been a fan of secession," she says. Quotes Thomas Jefferson... says people don't understand the Constitution.

"I absolutely don't want secession" but says the state should use "nullification and interposition" to stop federal intrusion into state's rights.
by Emily Ramshaw
Now Medina gets asked if she supports gay marriage.
"I am a born again Bible-believing christian. My personal belief is that marriage is a sacred contract between a man and a woman, and God."
"The state of Texas, that is a decision of the people. This state has voted overwhelmingly."
by Ross Ramsey
McCaa, to Medina on property taxes, saying Medina's plan to kill property taxes and replace them with sales taxes would put sales taxes at about 14 cents. (That's an extra 42 cents on that $3 burger, kids). Says the sales tax is the least upsetting to the economy, and agrees that the tax would be between 6 and 14 cents. It's 6.25 percent now, by the way, plus up to 2 cents in local add-ons.
by Emily Ramshaw
On to Gov. Perry on signing a bill to allow illegal immigrants to attend Texas universities with in-state tuition. "I look at those individuals who have been in this state, working toward their citizenship. These are individuals who have been in Texas for an extended period of time in most cases. Absolutely I think that is the correct thing to do."

But is it fair to residents of other states? Perry says those residents should go ahead and move down here.
by Emily Ramshaw
Perry redirects in a swipe at Hutchison: "The failure of Washington, D.C. to spend the money, to send the troops, to defend our border is absolutely an abomination in my opinion."
by Ross Ramsey
Perry says his support of human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccine for all girls a few years ago was a "pro-life" position and doesn't offer any apologies or indications of a change of heart.
by Emily Ramshaw
Perry gets asked, does he promise to serve all four years if he's re-elected? (As opposed to, say, a run for president?)
Perry indicates strongly that he'll finish the term -- because there's no better job.
"I have no idea what my future holds for me four years down the road. I've got a lot of faith in the lord, I hope he's going to let me live for four years."
by Emily Ramshaw
Jeopardy round!
by Ross Ramsey
Entering the "gotcha" round of questions.

Slater, to Perry: How many private sector and govt jobs were created last year."

Perry: "2009 was an incredibly difficult year." Says Texas was one of only two states with positive job growth.

"I can't tell you how many government jobs." Says "95 percent of the jobs were in the public sector."

by Emily Ramshaw
Hutchison gets asked: How much of the fence along the border is already built?
Her answer: About 150 miles.
The right answer = 105.8 miles.
by Ross Ramsey
To Medina: What percentage of the state budget is for the Texas Department of Transportation.

Her: I think it's 12.

McCaa: It's 9.
by Emily Ramshaw
For Perry: A lot of Texans are out of work. What is the maximum weekly payment they're entitled to?
He says: $415 dollars.
Right answer: $431.
by Ross Ramsey
slater to KBH: WHo was the first governor of texas.

Cricket sounds..... silence... "Burleson?"

McCaa: "actually it was Pinckney."
by Emily Ramshaw
To Medina -- what is the annual average pay for a Texas school teacher?
Medina: $46,000
Answer: $46,179
WHOA! Close.
by Ross Ramsey
Viewer/email questions!
by Ross Ramsey
Question from Barbara Miller of San Antonio: "What would you do about illegal aliens?"

KBH: "We can train our DPS to help the border patrol when there is a criminal illegal alien who can be apprehended. I would do that as governor."

Says she would require state agencies to use the e-verify system.
by Emily Ramshaw
On to Medina. The question: What would be your position on a graduated state income tax for corporations and the wealthy?
Her answer:
"Absolutely not. We have to understand that all tax is a drag on the economy. It takes away our income, jobs. Let's get income tax and property tax off the backs of Texas."
by Ross Ramsey
From Stan McGee of Sugar Land, to Perry: "What would you do to get 100 percent of Social Security to teachers in Texas?"

Perry calls it "one of those debacles that Congress has allowed over the years." Says he could use the "bully pulpit," but that's about it.
by Emily Ramshaw
The next round is the fact check. Have the candidates been up front in their answers?
by Ross Ramsey
Time for a commercial.
by Emily Ramshaw
Slater to Gov. Perry on the enterprise fund. "The fact is, you have real problems. You've moved the goal posts on 11 companies that weren't meeting the requirements... You put $40 million in your alma mater. This is really a program with a checkered history."

Says Perry: "It was great money spent toward a project that's gonna change the world... You are absolutely wrong that this is a program with a checkered past. A checkered past is what I call the bail-out in Washington, D.C."

"The people of the state of Texas will be better served by moving the goal post than seeing, ok we quit."
by Ross Ramsey
KBH, asked where she would get the money to build roads. Says TXDOT is wasting money and that we shouldn't be talking about new taxes or tolls until the agency is audited. And then says the Texas Enterprise Fund is wasting money.
by Emily Ramshaw
Medina is asked about job creation and personal wealth -- and how much the sales tax should grow if property taxes are eliminated.
"I absolutely agree eliminating the property tax in Texas is the thing to do."
"It's good for everybody in Texas."
by Ross Ramsey
New round: What the candidates have said about each other.
by Ross Ramsey
Medina, asked to respond to what Perry says about her tearing down Texas. Says she loves Texas but is a nurse, in a profession where you list the problems you need to solve. And then rips into Perry: "I'm critical of the governor's leadership, of his failure to demand excellence, accountability, transparency..."

Went back later to grab the whole quote, which left Perry clenching his jaw and Hutchison watching Medina with some discomfort: "...I'm critical of the governor's leadership. I'm critical of his failure to demand excellence, accountability, transparency. Every dollar that the state of Texas takes, we take from families... He takes from us so that he can play with his corporate slush fund and reward his friends' businesses. That's not his to give, and he hasn't understood the proper role of government in Texas. I'm very critical of the governor's leadership in recent years."
by Emily Ramshaw
Slater asks Gov. Perry about the trans-Texas corridor, and whether he'd support moving free lanes to toll lanes, something Hutchison has accused him of.
The Legislature already banned the practice in 2005 — and Perry signed it.
Hutchison's comments are "a misstatement of fact at best," Perry says.
by Emily Ramshaw
Cruising into the end here. The sales pitch.
by Ross Ramsey
To KBH, from Cannon, on Trans-Texas Corridor: "The philosophy of the Trans Texas corridor is alive and well... they give these huge contracts to these companies to build toll-roads and they protect them from competition."
by Emily Ramshaw
"There are four basic principles for why Texas has been so successful.
1) We don't spend all the money.
2) We keep our taxes low.
3) We don't allow for over-suing.
4) We have talented schools.
"It's going to take experienced executive leadership to take this state forward."
by Emily Ramshaw
And finally, Medina:
"The endorsement I'm most interested in is yours.
Financial ruin is knocking at our doorstep.
Together they're [Perry/Hutchison] a team of economic tricksters intent on destroying our freedom and selling Texas to the highest bidder."
by Ross Ramsey
KBH, closing: I have a record of conservative leadership for Texas... In tough times, we need real leadership to go forward... we need to stop cronyism in Texas. Why do we have Trans Texas Corridor and HPV? Governor working for lobbyists.... says she'll fix transportation, stop meddling in univeristies and fix the situation on the border.
by Ross Ramsey
And they're outta there...
by Emily Ramshaw
As expected, Medina was the only candidate to show up for the post-game presser. She said it was because "the senator and the governor don't want to have that conversation with you."
I'm crushed!
She reiterated her stances from the debate, speaking out against pork barrel spending in Washington (Hutchison) and loosey-goosey spending in Texas' own executive branch (Perry).
"That's not good leadership," she said.


by Ross Ramsey
That's it for us for the night. Tell us who you thought won the debate and why in the comments section.

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