Thursday, January 14, 2010

Your guide to the gubernatorial debate

Just like last Thursday night, an important event affecting many Texans will be appearing on television tonight.  This week, rather than the national championship game, three candidates for the Republican nomination for Texas governor will be debating.  Two Austin stations (KVUE and KLRU) will be airing the debate despite the fact that Austin proper is decidedly blue.  (You're missing a repeat on KVUE, so don't get worked up about it.)

At this point, I think a lot of Republicans in Texas have already made up their minds as to whom they will support.  But in the interest of those who haven't (and at present, that includes the author), let's talk about the three participants.

First, of course, there is the current incumbent, Rick Perry.  This conservative's first take on his campaign website is that it is long on platitudes (e.g., "Rick Perry stand for Texans' conservative values") but short on specifics.  How does he intend to insure the uninsured, as his website says?  Who knows.

At this point, I would venture a guess that when most people think of Governor Perry, they think of his hair and the Trans-Texas Corridor.  And that's it.  I also think of his executive order (since overturned) mandating Gardasil for sixth-grade girls.  But if you really want to know specifics about Rick Perry, unfortunately, your best resource at present is going to be...sigh...Wikipedia.*

Considered to be Gov. Perry's main challenger is our senior senator, Kay Bailey Hutchison.  Her website is definitely better about including policies and more specific ideas than is Gov. Perry's.  Unfortunately, she appears to be campaigning more against Rick Perry than running on these policies (with the possible exception of the oft-shown ad saying she'll end the TTC). 

A lot of conservatives do not consider her to be conservative enough for Texas, though, possibly because of her supposed pro-choice status (I've seen that written, though her own record appears to show her to be pro-life), but mostly because of her vote in favor the first bailout in Sept-Oct 2008.  Also, the Perry camp is contending that she voted to advance debate on the health-care bill in December 2009 by voting to advance a defense appropriation bill that, had it not advanced, would have stalled debate on the health-care bill, which, you may recall, was rushed through the Senate right before Christmas.  (PolitiFact Texas reports that there were already 62 votes in favor of advancing the bill when she voted aye; she has said she was supporting the troops with her vote, since the bill was going to advance anyway.)

Gov. Perry and Sen. Hutchison have both gone negative against each other in their advertising, but there is a third contender who is still pretty much unknown to most people, Debra Medina, a Republican Party county chairperson.  Her webpage is very specific on certain issues; for example, she advocates ending the property tax and replacing it with what is called a "revised sales tax".  (The supporting documentation was too long and wonkish for me to get through before the debate starts, which would make this whole entry moot, so I'm skipping it.)

Ms. Medina has been referred to, rather petulantly, as a "secessionist teabagger" by the ultra-left Austin Chronicle.  If anything, at this point, that's almost a recommendation to this undecided conservative.

Yeah, I'm undecided at this point.  I'll be watching the debate tonight also.  Even if you lean left (and there are a few who do in Austin...), it is always good to stay informed about the goings-on in our state, so I recommend this as must-see-TV for all Texans.

And besides, American Idol isn't on.  Happy viewing.

*All Wikipedia information must be taken with the usual several grains of salt.