By R.G. RATCLIFFE
Jan. 29, 2010, 12:56AM
AUSTIN — As the Republican candidates for governor prepare for what likely is their last debate tonight on statewide television, the first debate between Democrats Bill White and Farouk Shami has been set for Feb. 8 in Fort Worth.
Public broadcasting station KERA in Dallas announced Thursday it will host the debate between White and Shami before an audience at the studio of Fort Worth CBS station KTVT, with journalists and members of the public asking questions and other questions coming in from social networking sites.
White, the former Houston mayor, is favored in the race because of his established political credentials, but businessman Shami is spending millions of his own money in a bid to secure the Democratic gubernatorial nomination.
KERA was the lead host of the Jan. 14 debate between the GOP candidates for governor, incumbent Rick Perry and challengers U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison and activist Debra Medina.
Hutchison and Medina both benefited from the first debate, the former because of her energetic assault on Perry's record. Medina, as an unknown candidate, gained credibility through her knowledge of the issues.
Perry again will be the target in tonight's debate, hosted by Belo Corp., its affiliated newspapers and TV stations. Perry said he felt confident.
“I've been preparing for this debate for about 25 years. So nothing's different,” the incumbent said Thursday.
“The economy is the No. 1 issue that is out there and I'm going to argue that Texas is in better shape than just about any other state,” Perry said. “Texans want a leader who is confident. Texans want a leader who knows exactly where he wants to take this state and has the record to back it up.”
Hutchison spokeswoman Jennifer Baker said the senator, who was in Washington on Thursday, plans to focus her debate on Texas' future and challenge Perry to explain how he would use another term in office.
Early voting begins Feb. 16.
You can also watch it online at Texas Debates WFAA CBS Station.
So who plans on watching tonight? And who are you rooting for? Me, I want to see if this is going to be as lulzy as the last one. That was pretty awesome.