Gov. Greg Abbott and his Democratic opponent, Lupe Valdez, are facing off in their first and only debate Friday evening in Austin.
The hourlong event is set to begin 7 p.m. at the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library, and it is being hosted by the Nexstar Media Group. Nexstar will air the debate on its 12 stations throughout the state as well as broadcast partners in Houston, San Antonio, Corpus Christi and Dallas. Some Telemundo stations will also carry the debate, and a livestream of it will be available on the websites of the 12 Nexstar stations.
The moderator of the debate is Robert Hadlock of KXAN in Austin, who will be joined by a panel of local reporters from across the state. They include Julie Fine of KXAS in Dallas, Andy Cerota of KPRC in Houston, Steve Spriester of KSAT in San Antonio and Norma Garcia of Telemundo in Dallas/Fort Worth.
The debate will provide the widest audience yet for Valdez, the former Dallas County sheriff, whose underdog challenge to Abbott has unfolded in the shadow of the blockbuster U.S. Senate race. And it will fall two days before the Senate candidates — Republican incumbent Ted Cruz and Democratic rival Beto O’Rourke — are scheduled to debate again, on Sunday evening in Houston.
Like Cruz and O’Rourke, Abbott and Valdez had a back and forth over debates. Abbott made the first move in July, announcing he had accepted an invitation to the Nexstar debate. About a week later, Valdez said she was planning to participate in a separate debate that had been planned for Oct. 8 in Houston. But Abbott held firm on the Nexstar debate, and Valdez agreed to it last month while claiming victory in getting Telemundo on board.