TYLER, Texas (KETK) – Millions of Texans will tune in Friday night to see Governor Abbott and Beto O’Rourke go head-to-head in a highly anticipated debate, a little more than a month before election day.

“They’re almost never together. That’s why this is anticipated. The last time the two candidates were together in the same room was in Uvalde,” said UT Tyler Political Science Professor Mark Owens.

The debate will take place in the Rio Grande Valley, an area dealing with the border crisis first-hand. Owens said immigration is sure to be a hot topic, with the location as a giveaway.

“We can expect to see that number one, the candidates are going to address aspects about the Texas National Guard at the border, perhaps aspects about the continued construction of the border wall, and also especially the busing of migrants,” explained Owens.

Other issues discussed will include inflation, mass shootings and the abortion ban. Owens predicts the candidates will pivot to other topics depending on the question.

“The energy grid is going to come up just for the fact that that’s something that Beto O’Rourke talks a lot about with these ad campaign events. And also Governor Abbott will have the chance to update the public on what has happened,” said Owens.

A poll released last week from UT Tyler and the Dallas Morning News shows Governor Abbott increased his lead over O’Rourke, now nine points ahead. In August, the Governor was at seven points.

“Abbott will continue to speak to his supporters. He’ll try and appeal directly to independents,” said Owens. “Beto O’Rourke needs to change some people’s minds.”

Professor Owens said about 14 percent of people are independent and still on the fence about who they’re voting for, or if they’re even voting at all.

This debate has the potential to bring in more voters to the polls. You can tune in September 30th at 7 P.M. on KETK. It will be the only debate between Abbott and O’Rourke this election cycle.

UT Tyler poll to include: dmn-uttyler-sept2022.pdf

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