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Debate Recap: Lt. Governor Candidates Go On The Attack

Candidates in the state’s Lt. Governor Race quickly established how different they are from one another during their one and only statewide debate on Monday night as the two tore into each other’s record over issues ranging from immigration to abortion to tax reform.

The Democratic nominee in the race, San Antonio State Sen. Leticia Van De Putte, and her Republican opponent, Houston Sen. Dan Patrick, came out swinging during the debate in Austin hosted by the Texas Tribune and Austin’s PBS-station, KLRU-TV.  Patrick spent much of the night talking up his plan for cutting property taxes by setting a limit on appraisal rates:

“What it is, is lowering your property taxes and it’s also if we add it a penny or two penny to that sales tax, we can generate  enough money to lower your property taxes even more.  We have about 4.5-million homeowners in Texas and they’re carrying the entire burden of the state on their backs.”

Senator Van De Putte tried to paint her opponent as too extreme for the people of Texas, highlighting some of Patrick’s anti-immigrant rhetoric during the primary election:

“What doesn’t help is when harsh rhetoric and the politics of fear damage a region ... they disrespect the people that live there.”

Much of the discussion regarding the subject of immigration had to do with what resources should be available and what was considered fair, including Senator Patrick’s call for ending the Texas Dream Act.

“If there was only one seat left at a university and two students had equal GPA and equal SAT [scores] and the choice was between an American-student, Mexican-American student, African-American student and someone who was not a legal citizen, who would get the seat?  It’s just a question of fairness,” Patrick said.

Van De Putte accused Patrick of not understanding how the Texas Dream Act only addresses in-state tuition pricing for immigrant children, saying “this is not about admissions, this is about what you pay at the registrar’s’ office”

When the question arose about what direction the state should be taking on reforming  state abortion laws, Van De Putte pointed to Senator Patrick's vote against exemptions to the 20-week ban on abortion in cases of rape or incest.

Patrick said,  “Now I understand people have a difference of opinion on rape or incest but that child is still born in the image of God [and] is still a living human being.”

The night ended with each candidate declaring themselves as the winner of the debate in follow-up emails to their supporters.  Polls taken this summer showed Patrick leading Van De Putte by 15-points.