Ever since Governor Rick Perry announced last year that he would not seek re-election for a fourth term, Texas students knew it would be a more interesting gubernatorial election cycle than usual, prompting hopes of more involvement among their peers.
Although polls favor Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott, a Democratic state senator from Fort Worth, Wendy Davis, famous for her hotly contested abortion filibuster, is fighting hard to become Texas’ first democratic governor in 20 years.
In the televised debate in McAllen, Texas, which aired Wednesday, Sept. 24, the two went head-to-head on issues ranging from Ebola to abortion. A particularly hot topic, was border security, especially as it was held in the Rio Grande Valley.
“If the federal government will not act to secure our border, Texas must, and we will. And I did support the surge of DPS troops to our border,” Davis responded concerning Perry’s contested decision to beef up security using state funds when the federal government has been slow to protectthe U.S. border.
Though Davis was adamant about her passion for border security, Abbott pointed to the fact that she did not present voters with any concrete course of action.
He said, “I’m the only candidate on this stage tonight who’s outlined a plan…. My plan ensures that we add 500 DPS officers to help secure the border…. I add 20 Texas Rangers. I add efforts to ensure public integrity. Plus, I provide tools and resources and technologies we need to better address the problems.”
Abbott also says he will go after the gang-related activity, which is a large source of the violence.
One of the three moderators asked about the Latin American immigration problem and concerns that it has spurred anti-Hispanic sentiment.
Abbott used this opportunity to highlight his 33-year-long marriage to a hispanic woman, saying, “If the people of Texas elect me to be the governor, my wife will be the first Hispanic first lady in the history of this state, and I think that is setting a new tone in our ability to connect with voters across the state.”
Davis responded to the same question in a broader way by saying, “Everyone in our state wants their children to have opportunities … and that we’re providing that for every child no matter who they are, no matter how rich or poor, no matter their race….”
Students are expressing frustration with their peers concerning their lack of engagement in the political process this election season.
One in particular, senior political science major Loren Cowen, said, “There is no single issue that I wish mattered to others. I just wish that more people, especially in college, would develop political opinions and then stay informed on those issues that matter to them.”
She also said, “I am very discouraged by our age groups participation level in the political process. I think that a lot of people my age are more aware of things that go on in the presidential elections, but even then, I feel that they could be more involved.”
Cowen despises the apathy she encounters when having discussions with her friends about political topics.
“The people that I’ve talked to about the gubernatorial race don’t really care enough about the outcome to go out and vote,” she said.
She offered her own educated analysis of the campaigns saying, “My opinion of each campaign is that both Wendy Davis and Greg Abbott seem to feel very strongly about what they support and what is unique to them. I have known about Greg Abbott for a while, since he has been the Attorney General of Texas since 2002, but I did not know who Wendy Davis was until her famous filibuster last year.”
Cowen hopes students will educate themselves about the candidates and what they advocate for.
“When analyzing a campaign and making a decision, it is important to vote for the candidate who supports what you believe. Regardless if that person is Republican or Democrat, vote for them because you know what they stand for…. Just do your research and get opinions from multiple news sources.”