Wendy Davis dodging Rio Grande Valley debate?
U.S. Rep. Joaquín Castro – who came to McAllen last week as part of our Newsmaker Breakfast Series – declared what many other political observers have already said about this year’s election: For Democratic gubernatorial nominee Wendy Davis to win in November, she must win strong in the Rio Grande Valley.I don't think she is up to a debate at this point. She has run a poor campaign so far and her health has become an issue with a recent surgery. But if she is not up to the job of campaigning why should Texans think she would be up to the job of governing?
What the San Antonio Democrat did not say, however, is that Davis’ Republican rival for the governor’s office, Greg Abbott, can win the state’s top elective post without the Valley. But Abbott has said several times during his campaign that he wants the Valley’s vote.
So I was pleasantly surprised when, a few weeks ago, the Abbott campaign reached out to me to see if The Monitorwould be interested in playing host to a gubernatorial debate to be held in the Valley.
“Of course,” I said immediately, seeing this as a terrific opportunity for the Valley to play an influential role in this year’s election. I immediately reached out to the local Telemundo and CBS affiliates and they quickly agreed that they wanted to be a part of this historic event as well.
Then I reached out to the Davis campaign — and they demurred.
“We aren’t making any debate decisions at this time,” Davis Communications Director Zac Petkanas wrote me in an April 8 email. “However, this sounds like a very interesting opportunity and we will be in touch in the near future.”
To be clear: The Davis campaign did not reject the offer; they simply asked for more time to consider it. Strategically, I understand that they have their timetable for everything, but politically, I fear they are making a mistake by not even committing to a discussion about debates.
Winning an election is serious business, but it’s trivial relative to the job of governance. So I found it significant — and disconcerting — that some of the most influential politicians in the Democratic stronghold of South Texas were telling me they had little influence with the campaign of its Democratic nominee for governor.