Abbott and O’Rourke Clash in Texas Gubernatorial Debate – Guns, Immigration and Drugs Among the Topics Discussed

Toby Hazlewood

Will it affect the outcome of the election?
Texas Governors DebateTwitter of BetoORourke

On September 30, Republican Governor of Texas - Greg Abbott took on his Democratic challenger in what will likely be the only statewide televised debate between the two before the November election.

While both will likely claim victory over the other in the one-hour long debate, it really only served to reinforce the differences of opinion and policy between the two.

With most polls putting Abbott ahead by between 5 and 11 percentage points before the debate, there was a sense that the election was Abbott's to lose rather than O'Rourke's to win. Whether that margin will shift following the debate remains to be seen.

The topics that occupied most of the hour were those that are likely top-of-mind for many Texans right now, chiefly the immigration crisis at the southern border with Mexico, gun-control in the wake of the mass school-shooting in Uvalde earlier this year and the energy crisis and grid-failure in the state.

Immigration - a hot topic

The subject of uncontrolled immigration was obviously the most divisive and contentious subject. Initiatives carried out under Abbott's Operation Lone Star have kept him in the media spotlight for doing what he can to resolve the issue and deal with the mass influx of immigrants crossing the border.

Earlier this week, Abbott boasted of the 11000+ immigrants that have been transported to so-called sanctuary cities in Democrat-led states. This activity has been funded from the $4 billion allocated towards border security, including funding the placement of National Guard troops and Department of Public Safety troopers patrolling the border.

Abbott defended the Lone Star initiative, stating his motivation and criticizing his opponent for suggesting there was no issue to resolve:

“What we’re doing is making sure that we are keeping our community safe, and this is completely different than the way things would be under Beto because he said months ago, ‘There is no problem on the border.’ He said that he would reduce immigration enforcement.”

O'Rourke hit back at Abbott, saying that Texas needs a “safe, orderly path” for migrants crossing the border which would presumably prevent the chaos being witnessed at present.

Drugs - a problem or an opportunity?

Another topic that received a lot of air time in the debate was drugs. There were different angles to each of the candidates' points, however.

Abbott was keen to emphasize his intent to crack down on the flow of Fentanyl across the border, and the opioid crisis that continues to plague Texas and America more widely.

O'Rourke however took a different stance on drugs - he is in favor of the legalizing of marijuana fully, not just for medical purposes (under Texas law, marijuana is currently heavily restricted, even for medical usage). The Democrat shared plans that include the full-legalizing of the drug for recreational purposes as well as medical. He proposed this as a means of not just increasing public freedoms, but also of raising tax revenue for the state as well.

Given that a poll in August 2022 showed that 55% of Texans are in favor of legalising marijuana, this could be a move from O'Rourke that wins him some votes at least?

Whether the debate alters the outcome of the Texas gubernatorial election in November, remains to be seen.

Did your perspective on who to vote for in November, change at all as a result of the debate? Are you more convinced of your choice than before? Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below.

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