A look at the governor’s race
Texas will vote for a new governor on Tuesday. On the ballot are Republican candidate Greg Abbott, Democrat Wendy Davis, Libertarian Kathie Glass and Green Party candidate Brandon Parmer.
But the race is primarily between the candidates from the two major parties: Davis and Abbott. Issues they are debating include health care, voter IDs and education.
But will SMU students vote? Some political experts say maybe not.
“Mostly, young people will not vote at all,” SMU political science professor Cal Jillson said. “The propensity to vote increases with age. That’s why campaigns are about Social Security rather than the cost of college.”
About 50 percent of SMU students are from out of state. Unless they have established residency in Texas, those students won’t be able to participate in the election.
“I don’t live here so I don’t really care about it that much, but I’m sure that it’s important because Texas is a pretty big state,” said Graham Lumley, a sophomore marketing major and a Missouri native.
Young voters tend to be more democratic and liberal on social issues like gay marriage and the legal use of marijuana, according to an April, 2014 article published in The New Republic. For example, in 2012, 60 percent of people ages 18 to 29 voted for President Barak Obama.
Republican incumbent Gov. Rick Perry, the state’s longest serving governor, chose not to run again, leaving the race one of most competitive Texas has seen since George W. Bush beat Ann Richards in 1994. However, Abbott has been leading in the polls and has more funding, placing him as the projected winner. Despite the attention the race has attracted, many students feel disconnected with the race and the issues.
Cameron Buller, who lives in Fort Worth and is a junior mathematics and mechanical engineer double major, said he wasn’t even aware the race was going on.
“I have so much other stuff going on with school,” Buller said.
The College Republicans and College Democrats organizations both have chapters at SMU. Officials with the College Democrats say they have not scheduled an official watch party for Tuesday, but will instead watch results on their own. SMU College Republicans say they may have a watch party, but had not yet scheduled one as of Friday afternoon.
Abbott has been Attorney General since 2010. Before that he was a justice on the Texas Supreme Court and a State district judge for Harris County. Abbott attended University of Texas for his undergraduate degree in finance and attended law school at Vanderbilt University. He is Catholic, has been married to his wife Cecilia for 33 years and has one daughter. Abbott is also partially paralyzed due to an accident while jogging. Abbott has been preparing for his campaign by building a public following for years.
Davis, on the other hand, only recently gained national attention with her famous pink sneakers worn while filibustering a bill that limits abortion rights in Texas back in June 2013. Davis has also made a name for herself by focusing heavily on education. She believes education is an “equalizer” and is the reason for her own personal success. Davis attended TCU for her undergraduate degree and then went on to Harvard Law School. She was elected as a Texas State Senator in 2008. Davis, who was under fire in early 2014 about inconsistencies her personal life, has since published a memoir. She is a twice-divorced mother of two.
Carolyn Barta, an SMU journalism professor and political expert, thinks Davis may have peaked with her pink sneakers.
“If you look back at the polls last summer Davis was trailing Abbott by about 8 points. Now she’s looking a whole lot worse,” Barta said while speaking at an SMU Faculty Club lunch and election forum on Nov. 30.
Barta’s explanation echoes that of Jillson, who also spoke at the luncheon.
“To win, Davis would have had to run a perfect campaign and Abbott would have had to stumble badly,” Jillson said. “Neither of those things happened.”
But to sophomore Molly Cronin, Davis is the clear choice. Cronin is a sociology major and education minor and ranks education as her most important issue to consider when voting. While the Massachusetts native is not able to vote in the Texas governor’s race, she said if she could she would vote for Davis.
“It’s important to me because I want to be an elementary teacher,” Cronin said.
Mary Anna Billingsley, President of the SMU College Republicans strongly endorses Abbott.
“Instead of a national political agenda, Abbott will protect Texas by working to repeal ObamaCare, defending strong voter ID laws to protect our election process, and by upholding traditional Texas values,” Billingsley said.
Davis accused Abbott of profiting off his accident that left him partially paralyzed and then called him a hypocrite for denying funds to other victims of accidents as Attorney General
Abbott has equated Davis with President Obama saying that if she is elected it would be the same as having the President serve as Texas Governor.
(Information taken from the ads themselves)
POSITION ON ISSUES
Believes that Davis is fiscally irresponsible with her education plan and claims Davis’ plan would mimic federal educational mandates seen in other states. Abbott has a detailed education plan on his site that speaks to improving the quality before expanding programs.
Pro-life and defends the sanctity of life for both women and un-born children.
Agrees with Rick Perry’s stance saying that Texas should not expand Medicaid. Federal funding would provide most of Medicaid funds, but Texas would later have to contribute 10 percent. Perry and Abbott agreed this would break the Texas bank.
Believes in using education as an equalizer, making it easier and more affordable for students to get a college education by providing college courses to high school students. Davis wants to decrease standardized testing. She also filibustered against $5.4 billion in education cuts in 2011 and has made education one of her most important campaign issues.
Pro-Choice; According to her memoir, Davis has had two abortions herself.
Supports the expansion of Medicaid. Believes that Texas should take advantage of the $100 billion of federal funding. And disagrees that 10 percent would break the Texas bank.
(Information taken from each candidate’s official campaign website and from news reports)