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Home | Tag Archives: lupe valdez

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Gov. Abbott, Challenger Lupe Valdez Spar Over Arming Teachers, Harvey Recovery in Debate

Lupe Valdez, the Democratic nominee for governor, swung away at Republican Gov. Greg Abbott in their first and only debate Friday evening, while Abbott largely ignored her and defended his first term.

Valdez, the former Dallas County sheriff, hammered Abbott in response to nearly every question, accusing him of focusing on the wrong issues in his first term. Abbott often responded to the criticism obliquely and rarely mentioned his opponent.

There were nonetheless tense moments, such as when Valdez criticized Abbott for not calling a special session after Hurricane Harvey last year to tap the state’s savings account, known as the Rainy Day Fund.

“He calls a special session for bathrooms but does not call a special session when people are dying,” Valdez said, alluding to the “bathroom bill” that was among Abbott’s agenda items for a special session last summer. “The Rainy Day Fund is the biggest savings account in the United States. Governor, it rained!”

Abbott explained in response that the governor “has the authority to spend state money without having to call a special session to tap the Rainy Day Fund. That money, he said, will be repaid from the fund when the legislature meets for its next session in 2019.

Abbott made news on several fronts, starting with providing his clearest position yet on the historically inaccurate Confederate plaque at the Capitol that has drawn calls for removal by many Democrats and some Republicans. He said it was installed by a vote of the Legislature and thus lawmakers have a responsibility to take it down.

“Should they take it down because of a factual inaccuracy?” Abbott said. “Absolutely.”

Valdez was more forceful about removing the plaque, saying, “We just need to take care of it and get it done.”

Abbott also made clear that he will not be prioritizing a “bathroom bill” next session similar to the one that drew a business backlash last year, saying it is “not on my agenda” for 2019. However, he declined to say whether he would sign such a proposal if it made it to his desk, saying he “won’t sign hypothetical bills.”

Finally, Abbott expressed openness to reducing the penalty for possession of small amounts of marijuana — 2 ounces or less — from a class B misdemeanor to a class C misdemeanor. “We agree on something,” Valdez subsequently declared.

Other moments showed stark differences between the two, particularly when it came to guns. Abbott reaffirmed his support for letting teachers be armed in the aftermath of the deadly shooting earlier this year at Santa Fe High School. Valdez, meanwhile, insisted “teachers should be teaching, not being armed and in defense.”

The two also split on red flag laws, which would allow courts to order the seizure or surrender of guns from people who are deemed an imminent threat by a judge. Abbott raised due process concerns about such legislation, while Valdez said she supports it and accused Abbott of having “confusion between gun ownership and gun violence.”

Valdez continued to confront Abbott when it came to immigration, particularly over the 2001 Texas DREAM Act, which gives in-state tuition to some undocumented immigrants. Valdez said she believes in a path to citizenship for young people brought to the country illegally as children — “and therefore we need to prepare them to be here and be educated.” Abbott called the law flawed and in need of fixing, claiming it has no way to ensure that recipients are working toward legal status while receiving tuition.

Valdez then charged Abbott with “blaming the students for a broken immigration system.” Given an opportunity to respond, the governor again declined to mix it up with her while emphasizing “our job first is to make sure we educate Texas students.”

Abbott did directly acknowledge Valdez at least once — after she expressed support for expanding Medicaid in Texas.

“She wants to make a deal with a federal government that’s $21 trillion in debt,” Abbott said. “She’s willing to write a blank check to the federal government that I will not write.”

“Lying again, lying again,” Valdez said as moderators moved on to the next question.

Abbott and Valdez do not have another debate planned between now and Election Day, when Libertarian Mark Tippetts is also on the ballot. Tippetts was not included in Friday’s debate and held a news conference before it to voice his objections.

The hourlong event was was hosted by the Nexstar Media Group and held at the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library.

Like U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz and his Democratic challenger, U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke of El Paso, Abbott and Valdez had a back and forth over debates. Abbott made the first move in July, announcing he had accepted an invitation to the Nexstar debate. About a week later, Valdez said she was planning to participate in a separate debate that had been planned for Oct. 8 in Houston. But Abbott held firm on the Nexstar debate, and Valdez agreed to it last month while claiming victory in getting Telemundo on board as one of the sponsors.

Author: PATRICK SVITEK – The Texas Tribune

Lupe Valdez Sees Texas Gov. Greg Abbott as President Donald Trump’s “Puppet”

Democratic gubernatorial nominee Lupe Valdez, fresh off securing her party’s nomination in a runoff a week ago, is wasting little time tying the Republican incumbent, Greg Abbott, to President Donald Trump.

“He’s basically a puppet for the president,” Valdez, the former Dallas County sheriff, said in an interview Sunday, arguing Abbott is “trying to find favor” with Trump, particularly on issues related to the border. “He’s just following in Trump’s footsteps, and we’re strongly gonna go against that.”

Abbott, who is seeking a second term, has generally aligned himself with Trump on border policy, most recently heeding the president’s call to send hundreds of new National Guard troops to the area. Trump has repeatedly expressed his support for Abbott’s re-election bid, including last month during the National Rifle Association’s annual meeting in Dallas.

Still, Abbott has sought some distance from Trump in his re-election bid, particularly in his efforts to grow the 44 percent of the Hispanic vote he won in 2014. Last year, Abbott said he was confident Hispanic voters in Texas would see him and Trump as “completely independent” and warned Democrats that any money spent connecting him to Trump would be “like setting that money on fire and incinerating it.”

Like many Democrats, Valdez expressed deep skepticism that Abbott would get as large a share of the Hispanic vote in November, pointing to both Trump and arguably Abbott’s biggest legislative achievement in office: the state’s “sanctuary cities” ban, Senate Bill 4, which seeks to punish local officials who do not fully cooperate with federal immigration authorities.

“Look, he made some very good comments when he was running for office, but look what he did when he was in office,” Valdez said when asked about Abbott’s Hispanic outreach, citing SB 4. Democrats, she added, need to “get that message out and tell the folks that he talks a good game, but when it comes to action, he doesn’t do it.”

Valdez made the comments in an interview Sunday, five days after she captured her party’s nod for governor in a closer-than-expected runoff against Andrew White, the son of late Gov. Mark White. Before she even took the stage to accept the nomination, Abbott’s campaign released a video recounting how she said during the primary she would be open to raising taxes as governor but then backtracked on it the same day.

In the interview Sunday, Valdez did not rule out increasing taxes if elected.

“I don’t want to do anything that’ll hurt the working everyday Texan, and I’m certainly against” a state income tax, she said. Asked whether that meant she was specifically considering tax increases for wealthy Texans, she said she planned to review the tax code for loopholes and make sure everybody “pay their fair share.”

In addition to tying Abbott to Trump, Valdez was critical of the governor’s response to the Santa Fe High School shooting, which happened four days before the runoff and left 10 people dead. Abbott convened three school safety roundtables last week at the Capitol, and he tweeted Friday night he will “soon announce many substantive details that can be implemented before the next school year begins.”

“That’s good, but that’s not good enough,” Valdez said of Abbott’s roundtables, arguing the discussion should be much broader than school safety and include new gun regulations such as universal background checks.

Second Amendment rights have already flared up as an issue in the U.S. Senate race, where Republican incumbent Ted Cruz has pounced on Democratic challenger U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke‘s support for an assault weapons ban to paint him as a too liberal for gun-loving Texas. In the interview, Valdez stopped short of voicing support for the same ban but criticized assault weapons as “weapons of war” — “Who are you trying to go to war against?” she asked rhetorically — and said they do not have a place in “regular, everyday sports activities.”

In the interview, Valdez did not express any concern about wooing Republicans in the general election, voicing confidence that the issues she is emphasizing — health care and public education, for example — “go across both parties.” Even Republicans “who voted for Abbott are still having to struggle like many of the Democrats,” Valdez added.

Valdez’s campaign included a few high-profile setbacks in the primary, and she was followed for weeks by the question of whether she would debate White, which they ultimately did 11 days before the runoff. As for whether she is willing to spar with her November opponent, Valdez said she is game.

“Sure,” she said. “I don’t have any problem with debates. I’ve said from the very beginning, I don’t have any problem with that. I’ll debate him anytime.”

Read related Tribune coverage:

Author:  PATRICK SVITEK – The Texas Tribune

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott Vows to Challenge Lupe Valdez on Border Issues

KINGWOOD — Gov. Greg Abbott on Monday vowed to challenge Democratic gubernatorial candidate Lupe Valdez over her views on border security and immigration, emphasizing an early contrast with the former Dallas County sheriff who has not yet secured her party’s nomination.

Abbott’s comments drew a full-throated response from Valdez, who suggested the Republican incumbent “would rather spend his time sowing division than talking about his failed leadership.”

Abbott offered his most extensive comments on Valdez’s candidacy yet after a Tea Party meeting here Monday night, telling The Texas Tribune that he and she “have been locked in a battle for an aspect of Texas ideology” that goes back to their clash three years ago over her department’s policy on compliance with federal immigration authorities. Like he did in a tweet earlier this month — when he broke his silence on Valdez’s campaign — Abbott treated her as the Democratic nominee Monday, despite the fact she is in a May 22 runoff against Andrew White, the son of late Gov. Mark White.

“It’s clear that she’s not only obviously the frontrunner and had the most votes in the initial go-around, but it’s our analysis that she’ll be the nominee,” Abbott said. “And so every time she comes out and starts talking about ways that are antagonistic to the Texas perspective on making sure that we ban sanctuary cities, secure our border, I’m going to challenge her on it.”

Valdez opposes the state’s ban on “sanctuary cities”  — known as Senate Bill 4, or SB 4 — that Abbott signed into law last year, looking to punish local officials who do not fully cooperate with federal immigration authorities. She has also been critical of his decision to heed the call of President Donald Trump and send hundreds of National Guard troops to the border earlier this month — criticismthat prompted Abbott’s April 4 tweet declaring her his November opponent.

“I think she embodies the Obama approach, which is more open borders, obviously not enforcing the ban on sanctuary cities,” Abbott said Monday. “We went through a big legislative process to make sure that Texas would pass a ban on sanctuary cities. If Lupe is elected, she will eviscerate that ban on sanctuary cities, and all these concerns that so many Texans have will be threatened.”

Valdez fired back in a statement Tuesday morning, saying it’s “back to business as usual with Greg Abbott spewing his fear-based open borders nonsense.”

“I’ve spent 42 years working in law enforcement, working to keep Americans safe, I know what smart security looks like and this isn’t it,” Valdez said. “Demonizing immigrants, and spreading fear and hatred is exactly the wrong approach.”

As for the “sanctuary cities” law, Valdez added, “You can bet this military veteran, former federal agent and four-term Sheriff of Dallas County is going to eviscerate SB 4.”

Read related Tribune coverage:

 

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