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The Brief: Sept. 19, 2014

In the run-up to tonight's first televised debate between the two leading candidates for governor — Republican Greg Abbott and Democrat Wendy Davis — as much attention is being paid to the setting of the encounter as the substance.

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The Big Conversation

In the run-up to tonight's first televised debate between the two leading candidates for governor — Republican Greg Abbott and Democrat Wendy Davis — as much attention is being paid to the setting of the encounter as the substance.

The Houston Chronicle's Mike Ward and the San Antonio Express-News' Peggy Fikac wrote, "A decision by Democrat Wendy Davis and Republican Greg Abbott to have their first faceoff in the Rio Grande Valley on Friday illustrates the importance of the state's Latino vote, which she must secure to be competitive in the governor's race and he must attract to help secure his party's future."

The debate, believed to be just Abbott's second televised statewide debate in his electoral career, is set to take place at 6 p.m. at the Edinburg Conference Center at Renaissance. With polls showing Abbott up on Davis by varying margins, the task for the GOP nominee seems pretty clear — don't commit an unforced error. Davis, meanwhile, might be under greater pressure to press the attack in order to shake up the dynamic of the race.

Reporting for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, veteran Texas political writer Dave Montgomery writes that Democrats have turning out Hispanic voters in November as a cornerstone of their general election strategy. Their efforts are bolstered by a well-known Hispanic politician, state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, on the ballot for lieutenant governor and by the turnout efforts put forth by Battleground Texas.

Republicans, though, are also making a play for Hispanic voters. Montgomery writes that Abbott has made at least 15 trips to the Rio Grande Valley during this election season. "Republicans," he writes, "are hoping to capture more than 40 percent of the Hispanic vote to both solidify Abbott’s lead and help the party forge a long-term alliance with an expanding constituency that is expected to one day hold the majority in Texas."

For those wanting to catch the debate, here are some viewing options:

Voters can tune in to a livestream of the debate at texastribune.org or texastribune.org/livestreamThe Monitor newspaper’s website, themonitor.com, is also streaming it. TV stations owned by Sinclair Broadcast Group, including KEYE in Austin and WOAI in San Antonio, will air the debate live, organizers said.

C-SPAN will re-broadcast the debate at 9 p.m. Central Standard Time on Friday, the network said. The Monitor is sponsoring the one-hour debate along with KGBT Action 4 News, the local CBS affiliate, and KTLM Channel 40, the Spanish-language Telemundo TV station.

Also, a livestream of the debate will be shown at the first night of The Texas Tribune Festival in Austin.

The Day Ahead

•    The Texas Tribune Festival starts today! There's still time to register before the sessions begin tonight.

•    GOP nominee for lieutenant governor Dan Patrick holds a morning press conference in Austin.

•    GOP nominee for governor Greg Abbott has a handful of appearances planned for the Rio Grande Valley on Saturday, the day after he debates Democratic nominee Wendy Davis. He starts the day with an endorsement announcement and block walk in McAllen at 9 a.m., followed by a block walk in Harlingen at 1:20 p.m. He finishes the day at a pachanga in Mission at 7:20 p.m.

•    A Senate Natural Resources subcommittee looking at impacts of Mexico's energy reforms on Texas meets at 9 a.m. in the Capitol Extension to take invited testimony. (agenda)

Trib Must-Reads

Against the Odds, Finding Refuge in El Paso, by Julián Aguilar

State Invites More Toll Roads Amid Signs of Resistance, by Aman Batheja

Analysis: Democrats, Republicans — and Novembers, by Ross Ramsey

State Judge Decides Not to Stop "Historical Racing", by Bobby Blanchard

Letters Routed Through UT Chancellor's Office Released, by Reeve Hamilton

Elsewhere

Funding bill becomes immigration battle, Politico

UT medical school on track for 2016 opening, dean says, Austin American-Statesman

Dallas ISD 3-year graduation plan receives state approval, The Dallas Morning News

Vote on Islamic State strategy mixes up usual partisan divide in Congress, Houston Chronicle

Sen. Ted Cruz pledges $250K to NRSC, Politico

Lt. Gov candidate Dan Patrick talks conservative values in Lubbock, Lubbock Avalanche-Journal

Editorial: Dan Patrick is MIA, Houston Chronicle

Quote to Note

“The debate on Friday is going to take place in the setting and format that Greg Abbott wanted. We definitely expect him to do well."

Wendy Davis campaign spokeswoman Rebecca Acuña in an attempt to raise the bar on Abbott's performance in Friday's first gubernatorial debate

Today in TribTalk

Keep military gear out of Texas schools, by Brennan Griffin

Trib Events for the Calendar

•    A Conversation With U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, on Sept. 24 at the UTSA Downtown Campus in San Antonio.

•    A Panel Discussion on Demographic Change and the Digital Divide, on Sept. 30 at LBJ School of Public Affairs in Austin

•    A Conversation With Kathie Glass, 2014 Libertarian Nominee for Governor, on Oct. 2 at The Austin Club

•    A Conversation With Sam Houston, 2014 Democratic Nominee for Attorney General, on Oct. 16 at The Austin Club

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