One of the biggest races of the November 2018 election is the seat for governor of Texas. Republican Gov. Greg Abbott is going head to head with former Dallas County Sheriff turned Democratic gubernatorial candidate Lupe Valdez.
Who are the candidates?
Gov. Greg Abbott (R)
Abbott is the 48th elected official to hold the title of governor in Texas.
He was first elected to the governor's seat in January 2015, following his previous roles as the "longest-serving Attorney General in Texas history and as a Justice on the Texas Supreme Court."
During the 2015 legislative session, Abbott remarks that one of his major victories was signing into law the largest tax cut in the past 10 years, which included an increase in the homestead exemption -- a method that helps homeowners save on taxes on their homes -- and a 25 percent cut in the business franchise tax. Abbott said he also received favorable support from both parties on his Bicentennial Blueprint: a plan that aims to keep Texas as a U.S. success story on the Lone Star Sate's 200th independence celebration in 2036.
Abbott, a Wichita Falls native, highlighted in the blueprint investing more resources into education for the next generation, creating more job opportunities in Texas by limiting government interference and providing tax cuts, and securing the Texas-Mexico border from drug-cartel members and criminals.
Since 2015, Abbott has invigorated discussions on social media with his suggestion to cease building new tollways in Texas, and instead, recommended that the billions of dollars approved by voters in 2014 and 2015 go to the Texas Department of Transportation and new state transportation projects. The 48th governor has also addressed preparedness for natural disasters and updating school safety protocol, following the tragedies of Hurricane Harvey in 2017 and the Santa Fe High School shooting in 2018.
Abbott graduated from the University of Texas with a B.B.A in Finance. He continued his schooling at Vanderbilt University, where he obtained a law degree. Soon after, Abbott was paralyzed in a freak accident when a tree fell on him while jogging.
Currently, Abbott lives in Austin, Texas with his wife Cecelia, the first Hispanic First Lady of Texas, and their college-aged daughter, Audrey.
Lupe Valdez (D)
Valdez, a San Antonio native and the former sheriff of Dallas County, announced her run for governor by retiring her law enforcement badge with the hopes of defending Texas in a different sense.
Valdez defeated former Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Andrew White during the May 2018 runoff election, claiming 42.9 percent of the vote compared to White's 27.4 percent. This put her in the position to become the direct challenger of Gov. Abbott.
It's a setting that might have seemed far-fetched for Valdez as a child. She said she grew up poor as the eighth child of migrant farm workers, and she wholeheartedly identifies with being a working-class American, according to her website.
The Democratic gubernatorial nominee said she worked multiple jobs to pay for her own schooling at Southern Nazarene University, where she graduated with a bachelor's in business administration. Afterward, she received her master's degree in criminology at UT-Arlington while working as a federal agent. She later went on to have a 19-year career as a captain in the U.S. Army Reserves before moving her career to local law enforcement as sheriff for Dallas County from 2004 to 2017. During that time, Valdez said she was the only Latina sheriff in the U.S. and one of a few LGBTQ Americans holding public office.
She credits her experience serving in the army and law enforcement for giving her a fighting chance. If elected, Valdez said she wants to work for the common person and share the wealth of opportunities Texas has to offer with them.
If voters pick Valdez as governor, she will be the first openly LGBTQ and Latina major party candidate for the state of Texas and the U.S.
However, the road for governor is a taxing journey that hasn't always been favorable for the blue party in Texas. Experts say Democrats haven't won a statewide election in Texas since 1994.
What are their platforms?
Gov. Greg Abbott (R)
According to Abbott's website, his goal for his next election term would be to continue building on the "Bicentennial Blueprint," which aims to keep Texas at the forefront of economic prosperity.
Here are other stances of Abbott:
- Protecting individual liberty -- defending the second amendment and protecting religious liberty
- Secure our community -- securing the border, enforcing the law, and supporting law enforcement
- Elevate Texas education -- improving schools in early and higher education
- Protect vulnerable Texans -- protecting the unborn, human trafficking victims and Texas children
Go here for a full list of issues Abbott wants to tackle if he is reelected.
Lupe Valdez (D)
Here are stances of Valdez:
- Women's health -- fight for comprehensive sex education in classrooms and work with Planned Parenthood to protect women's health and rights to their own bodies
- Redistricting -- wants fair maps drawn to diminish advantages by either political parties for their own personal gain
- Property taxes -- wants to close property tax loopholes and implement policies that combat hyperinflation of property values
- LGBTQ Equality -- enshrine protections for the community on heels of controversial legislation like "bathroom bill."
- Border security -- plans to give funding to people "who truly understand the border," without "fearmongering."
Go here for a full list of issues Valdez wants to tackle if she is elected.
Both Gov. Abbott and Valdez will get the chance to argue their sides on the issues most crucial to the future of Texas at a debate on Sept. 28 in Austin. According to the Texas Tribune, the debate wasn't immediately confirmed on both sides. While Abbott quickly confirmed he would attend the debate in late September in Austin, Valdez had confirmed she would attend an unrelated debate on Oct. 8 in Houston. The Tribune reports that Valdez didn't appreciate that the September debate is on a Friday night during football season. However, after weeks of negotiating, Valdez confirmed that she would attend the debate in Austin and would bring Spanish-language media partner, Telemundo, to broadcast the event on TV and online.