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Government/Politics

Update: Statewide Gubernatorial Debate In Dallas Is Back On Schedule

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Ryan Poppe | Texas Public Radio
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Update (9/3): The debate scheduled for Sept. 30 is back on the schedule for both campaigns.

State Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, and Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott have reached an agreement for a debate in Dallas.

Last week the Abbott campaign backed out of the event because it was formatted as a roundtable debate and they were concerned about response times.

KERA, Public Media for North Texas, was able to reach an agreement between the two campaigns by switching to a stricter debate format.

The two candidates also have a debate scheduled for Sept. 19 in McAllen.

Earlier:

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott's campaign for governor has announced they are backing out of the one statewide televised debate because of format issues.

Abbott's campaign said issues with Dallas’ ABC affiliate, WFAA-TV, had to do with the debate being formatted as a roundtable discussion rather than a more structured, timed-response debate.

"The difficulty is that with roundtable debates they can often result in a shouting match,” said professor Mark Jones, who heads up the political science department at Rice University in Houston.

While Abbott is facing criticism from Democrats over the move, Jones said the move doesn’t hurt the Abbott campaign, but instead hurts his opponent, state Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth.

"As we approach the official Labor Day start of the political campaign, Greg Abbott has 3-4 times more dollars in his campaign war chest than Wendy Davis and he’s up by 12 points in the polls," Jones said. "He doesn’t need to do anything, he just needs to avoid making some egregious error. Wendy Davis desperately needs the exposure that this debate would’ve provided her.”

Jones said for Abbott it’s better to lose a half of a point or point related to backing out of the debate rather than something unpredictable happening at that debate that could change the dynamic of the campaign.

Jones said Abbott is avoiding any type of risk between now and November 4. Both campaigns still remain committed to a local debate in McAllen, which is scheduled for later this month.