Democratic candidates for Texas governor face-off in debate

By Morgan Thomas - bio | email

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) – Houston businessman Farouk Shami and former Houston Mayor Bill White spoke to voters tonight during the first Democratic gubernatorial debate.

The two Democratic frontrunners for Texas Governor sparred over a wide range of topics with education topping the list.

"Our goal should be to prepare all young people for good jobs for the future," said Bill White, former Houston Mayor.

So did raising health care costs.

"Health care in the state of Texas has risen 68% in the last eight years and its predicted to grow 160% in the next ten years. We cannot have that," said Farouk Shami, Houston businessman.

But White vowed to stay away from topics like the voter I.D. bill and ultrasounds before abortions.

"I do not think leadership means getting diverted into the so-called 'hot button' issues that divide Texans. We need to do more to unite citizens of this state," said White.

Shami made a deal with Texas voters.

"I will guarantee everyone a job. I will guarantee 100,000 jobs in the first two years or I will give the state ten million to the state," said Shami.

The candidates split over the border security issue.

"As governor I would be in the each of the border communities with local law enforcement and federal authorities... We distinguish the hundred of thousands of lawful visitors everyday and those that are up to no good," said White.

"...We should not have a wall between us and Mexico. We should build bridges between us and Mexico. That is our neighbor. That's our people. We cannot split up families," said Shami.

Shami's closed the debate with a plea to voters.

"I have no special interests, but to serve the people. I will be the one to make the American dream for all citizens," said Shami.

And White lobbed a remark to the Republican candidates.

"Compare how Shami and I have treated each other with respect. Compare that to the other debate when people were shouting over each other," said White.

The primary election date is March second, but early voting begins in just days - starting February 16th and running through the 26th.

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