The highly contested Republican gubernatorial primary had its first debate Thursday night. Supporters filled the Murchison Performing Arts Center in Denton, many wearing buttons and stickers promoting the candidate of their choice. Just before 7p.m., Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, former Wharton County political chair Debra Medina and incumbent Governor Rick Perry took to the stage. KERA News Director, Shelley Kofler, welcomed the audience, and then it went downhill.
The candidates were only given 60 seconds to respond to each question, but it was apparent from the beginning that they needed more time. Candidates were allowed to give rebuttals, but the time structure wasn’t observed and there wasn’t much Ms. Kofler could do to keep them in line. Gov. Perry and Sen. Hutchison brought their tap shoes. They danced around questions and dodged statistics. Apparently, Sen. Hutchison had a hard time remembering that she did vote to uphold Roe vs. Wade in 2003. Or maybe she didn’t feel like sharing that information during a statewide broadcasted Republican debate. Meanwhile, Gov. Perry answered questions that weren’t asked and gave rhetoric that left most of the viewers wondering what he was talking about. Sen. Hutchison and Gov. Perry continually took jabs at each other and argued like children, leaving Medina in the middle, looking almost irrelevant, but Medina’s answers to the questions quickly proved her credibility. An audience member asked the candidates opinions on the Texas Advance Directives Act. This act, also known as the Texas Futile Care Law is considered controversial because it allows health care facilities to take someone off of life support against their wishes, as long as a 10 day written notice is given that states the continued life support isn’t medically appropriate. Sen. Hutchison reacted with surprise, claiming to be unaware of the law. Gov. Perry also claimed he wasn’t aware of this law, even though it went into to effect in 1999, while he was Lt. Governor of Texas. Debra Medina, the only non-politician on stage, was not only aware of the directive, but discussed her experiences as a nurse and having to see people endure the pain that is associated with the Texas Futile Care Law. Score that point for Medina.
Overall, the debate left much to be desired. Serious questions were asked, but they weren’t really answered. Gov. Perry and Sen. Hutchison argued over their political records and offered more of the same. Medina had interesting ideas, but didn’t have enough time to put them on the table. The Belo Corp. will be hosting another gubernatorial primary debate on January 29th at 7p.m. The second debate will be broadcast live on WFAA. The dynamic will be noticeably different, as Belo has not invited Debra Medina to participate. After the bickering and childish behavior of last nights performance between the Governor and the Senator, you would think Belo would be more inclined to invite Medina, but then again, maybe they just don’t want anyone to watch.