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00000175-b317-d35a-a3f7-bbdf00220000This legislative session, public radio stations across Texas are answering voters' questions about the elections. KUT has partnered with Houston Public Media, KERA News in Dallas, San Antonio's Texas Public Radio, Marfa Public Radio and Texas Standard to tackle crowdsourced questions from voters all over the state.

3 Things To Watch During Tonight's Governor's Debate

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Marjorie Kamys Cotera/Laura Buckman
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The Texas Tribune
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is campaigning for re-election against Democratic challenger Lupe Valdez.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and his closest challenger, former Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez, take the stage in Austin tonight for the first and only debate between the candidates.

The debate kicks off at 7 p.m. Watch it below:

Or on 11 local stations that are part of the Nexstar Media Group. It will be on KXAN-TV in Austin, KXAS-TV in Dallas, KPRC-TV in Houston and KSAT-TV in San Antonio.

Here are three things to watch for that could make the debate more interesting as you settle in with your popcorn.

Immigration

This issue is probably at the top of the list for both candidates. Gov. Abbott is running on his record of spending hundreds of millions of dollars strengthening border security, including sending additional DPS troops and National Guard troops down to the Mexico border.

For Valdez, this is a chance to hammer Abbott on an issue Democrats are ginned up about. It also could be the topic she is most prepared to address. Valdez took a hit during her primary race against Andrew White. The Dallas Morning News editorial board questioned her understanding of the school finance system and the state budget process. But she has been on firmer ground when talking about immigration.

So this topic could be the most interesting back-and-forth of the night.

Valdez's Big Opportunity

Gov. Abbott has money, name recognition and a large lead in the polls. Valdez has none of that. So during this one hour, when she has a chance for the kind of statewide exposure that her campaign can’t afford, she’ll need to make it count. That means trying to score points. Trying to find a moment when she can make herself look gubernatorial, while making Abbott look bad. And if she can’t do that, her campaign will at least need an Abbott mistake to help propel it forward.

But Abbott is a seasoned debater, so if the Valdez campaign is hoping for the kinds of big mistakes that could change this race, it may be out of luck.

President Trump

While this is a state race, not federal, President Trump is bound to come up. Texas voters are paying attention to the polices coming out of the White House – from his policies on immigration, to NAFTA, to education and trade. Democratic candidates, no matter the race, are hoping dislike of Trump will swing extra voters their way. The president’s high approval ratings among Republicans, meanwhile, have GOP incumbents snuggling up to the commander-in-chief in an effort to win re-election.

Do you have any questions about the race? Let us know and we could provide an answer in an upcoming TX Decides.

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