Media coverage of the race for governor has focused on a likely battle between Democrat Wendy Davis and Republican Greg Abbott. But another Republican, Former State GOP Party Chair Tom Pauken, says Abbott’s reluctance to answer questions gives him an opportunity to be heard.
KERA’s Shelley Kofler talked with Pauken, 59, about his primary opponent, education and his uphill campaign.
On the question of why he believes he could be the GOP nominee when Greg Abbott has more than $20 million in his campaign fund and Pauken has about $400,000:
Pauken: The message I have and what I have done on education and a number of other fronts seems to resonate. It’s just a question of getting the message out. I think it’s time for debates between Greg Abbott and myself. I mean he can’t keep going out and hiding from the press, hiding from his opponent. We’ve got a very formidable Democratic challenger in this race in Wendy Davis.
On the question of in-state tuition for undocumented people in Texas, a subject Abbott did not fully address last week.
Pauken: You don’t give it to people from Oklahoma, or Louisiana or neighboring states who might want to come to Texas and go to our state institutions. And I don’t think you should give it (in-state tuition) to people who are not legally here from other countries.
On how to fund public education:
Pauken: What I would do is eliminate the Robin Hood school finance scheme which would cut school property taxes by $1.1 billion and provide a comparable increase –it’s a one-quarter percent increase in the sales tax- in order to have a steady revenue source for the property poor districts. It allows local school taxes to stay local and not to be taken away from local districts.
Greg Abbott's Response:
Abbott Campaign Spokesman Avdiel Huerta responded to Tom Pauken's comments with the following statement:
"Greg Abbott believes that all candidates in the Republican primary are on equal footing. There will be plenty of time for debates once all the candidates get in the race, and no one candidate should be picking winners and losers about who gets into the debates."