Greg Abbott Bails On One of Two Gubernatorial Debates

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Photo by Mary Tuma

Update: 4:55pm, August 29, 2014

Greg Abbott has accepted an invitation to participate in a statewide televised debate hosted by KERA, NBC5/KXAS-TV, Telemundo 39 and The Dallas Morning News. The new debate is scheduled September 30, 2014 at 8pm. The Wendy Davis campaign has yet to respond as of this time.

Original story follows below:

Welp, looks like we only have one chance to hear from both gubernatorial candidates this election season. Mid-morning Friday, Republican candidate Greg Abbott backed out of a Sept. 30 roundtable-style debate in Dallas with his Democratic opponent Wendy Davis, citing problems with the agreed-upon format.

WFAA-TV in Dallas was planning to host the debate and broadcast it statewide on other affiliate stations, including stations in San Antonio, Houston, Austin, Amarillo, Beaumont, Tyler and San Angelo.

President and CEO Mike Delvin said the station is "deeply disappointed that the Abbott campaign has not lived up to the commitment it made. WFAA has produced numerous debates which are balanced and fair to all the candidates. This debate would be no different," he said. "The citizens of Texas deserve to hear from the candidates for the most important office in the state."

Another debate scheduled for Sept. 19 in McAllen will be televised as well as live-streamed by the Texas Tribune.

Abbott's decision came months after the roundtable-style setup was agreed upon months ago, according to WFAA.  "From grassroots events to policy announcements and roundtable discussions, we have made our personal engagement with voters a focal point," Abbott campaign manager Wayne Hamilton wrote to WFAA back in May.

Davis campaign spokesperson Zac Petkanas called Abbott's about-face "an insult to the voters of Texas.

It's no surprise that Greg Abbott is pulling out of a long planned debate the day after he was defeated in court for protecting billions in public education cuts that have led to overcrowded classrooms, teacher layoffs and shuttered schools," he said in a statement. "Greg Abbott is clearly too afraid to defend his record of siding with insiders at the expense of Texans -- whether it's defending funding cuts for classrooms, siding with a corporation against a victim of rape or letting his donors take tens of millions of taxpayer dollars intended for cancer research."

It's been a few years since we've seen Texas gubernatorial candidates on stage together. The last televised debate took place during the 2006 election when incumbent Republican Rick Perry took on Democratic opponent Chris Bell and independents Kinky Friedman and Carole Keeton Strayhorn. In his race against Democrat Bill White, Perry refused to debate him after White wouldn't release his tax returns.

In the first governor's race in a long-ass time NOT involving Gov. Good Hair (12 years), is it seriously too much to ask that Texas voters get the chance to hear from their candidates as often as possible?

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