The Lone Star State's 2002 gubernatorial candidates locked horns Wednesday night in Houston. It was the first debate between Republican Governor Rick Perry and Democratic Challenger Tony Sanchez. For months Sanchez and Perry have been battling each other over the airwaves with slick TV commercials. Wednesday evening, they put on the sparring gloves and met at center stage on the campus of Rice University in Houston.
The hour-long gubernatorial debate started with both candidates addressing rising homeowners insurance rates in the state of Texas. "In February 2002 I asked the Attorney General's office to investigate, which they did. We have sued the second largest provider in the state. We have clearly said that we will take strong steps to re-regulate that industry," said Perry.
"He (Gov. Perry) should have called a special session a long time ago (to address the issue). He knew the problems were there and could have solved them a long time ago. Yet, all these months have gone by and nothing was done and families are still suffering," said Sanchez.
Governor Perry then fielded a question about being endorsed by former Texas Attorney General and Democrat Dan Morales, and the Governor was asked why he should expect to get the minority vote. "By and large he believes what I believe, in affirmative access." Perry says he is proud to have put the first African American on the Texas Supr
During a question about the $50 million Sanchez spent on his campaign, both candidates took jabs at the other. "I know that I'm extremely blessed," says Sanchez. "The Lord has been wonderful to me and my family." Sanchez says Perry has been a professional politician for 17 years and he was just catching up for lost time by getting his name out there. Perry said if Sanchez felt truly blessed he would have taken that money and given it back to the taxpayers of his failed savings and loan business.
During a segment of the debate both candidates asked questions of one another. That's when Perry slammed Sanchez for not voting in the Texas Gubernatorial Election. When the candidates were asked by a panelist if they could say something nice about the other, both said they respected the others faith in God and love for his family.
The candidates will meet face to face once again in Dallas on the 24th.