Abbott, O’Rourke agree to debate in the Rio Grande Valley

Democratic candidate for Texas governor, Beto O'Rourke (left) and Texas Governor Greg Abbott...
Democratic candidate for Texas governor, Beto O'Rourke (left) and Texas Governor Greg Abbott (right)(Associated Press Photos)
Published: Sep. 1, 2022 at 1:27 PM CDT
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(TEXAS TRIBUNE) - Gov. Greg Abbott and his Democratic opponent, Beto O’Rourke, have agreed to a Sept. 30 debate in the Rio Grande Valley.

Abbott announced last month that he had accepted an invitation to the debate, which will be hosted by Nexstar Media Group at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley in Edinburg.

O’Rourke responded at the time by saying he would be happy to debate Abbott in the Valley but did not commit to the specific event — and pushed for more debates.

On Thursday morning, O’Rourke’s campaign revealed it had committed to the Sept. 30 debate while announcing he had also accepted invitations for four other town hall-style debates hosted by news organizations.

Abbott’s campaign has indicated the Sept. 30 debate is the only one he is willing to do before the November election.

“Beto is looking forward to these four town hall-style debates where he can continue taking questions directly from voters in English and Spanish while also holding Governor Abbott fully accountable for his indefensible record of incompetence and extremism,” O’Rourke spokesperson Chris Evans said in a statement.

Among the invitations O’Rourke accepted is a debate hosted jointly by The Texas Tribune, the Austin American-Statesman, The Dallas Morning News, the Houston Chronicle, the San Antonio Express-News and KVUE-TV.

Abbott’s campaign responded to O’Rourke’s announcement Thursday by appearing to confirm that the Sept. 30 debate is the only one the governor will do.

“In between television appearances in New York and fundraising in Hollywood, we are pleased Beto O’Rourke is taking the time to debate Governor Abbott in the only statewide televised debate,” Abbott spokesperson Mark Miner said in a statement.

Abbott’s campaign has said the Sept. 30 will be in the evening and will be an hour long. It will be available in every media market, including on Spanish-language channels, according to the campaign. It will be moderated by Britt Moreno of KXAN in Austin, with a panel of journalists including Sally Hernandez of KXAN, Gromer Jeffers of The Dallas Morning News and Steve Spriester of KSAT in San Antonio.

Disclosure: The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune’s journalism. Find a complete list of them here.