In Texas AG Race, No Signs of Debate

As Texas gubernatorial candidates Greg Abbott and Wendy Davis fight over debate formats, Democratic attorney general candidate Sam Houston has challenged his Republican opponent, state Sen. Ken Paxton, to a debate.

Democratic nominee for Attorney General, Sam Houston, addresses delegates on the final day of the  2014 Texas Democratic Convention held at the Dallas Convention Center in Dallas, Texas,  June 28, 2014.
Democratic nominee for Attorney General, Sam Houston, addresses delegates on the final day of the 2014 Texas Democratic Convention held at the Dallas Convention Center in Dallas, Texas, June 28, 2014.  Alyssa Banta

As Texas gubernatorial candidates Greg Abbott and Wendy Davis fight over debate formats, Democratic attorney general candidate Sam Houston has challenged his Republican opponent, state Sen. Ken Paxton, to a debate.

“If you want to be the attorney general in this state, argue, be a lawyer, and stand up and debate your opponent,” Houston said. “I’ll debate him anywhere, everywhere, but I want one thing clear — we don’t want any rules where you get pre-approved questions. That’s not a debate."

Paxton spokesman Anthony Holm called Houston's challenge a "desperate ploy."

"Our opponent is losing, badly, so it's not surprising that he continues this desperate ploy for publicity when he's down by 20+ points," Holm said in an emailed statement, referencing a poll Paxton's campaign released Tuesday that showed the state senator was in the lead. "Endless pleas for debates are the political equivalent of a Hail-Mary pass." Holm did not say whether Paxton would debate Houston. 

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Houston was critical of Holm's characterization of the challenge.

"Can you imagine we're in politics now when it's a ploy to want to debate your opponent?" Houston said. "Historically, some of the best campaigns have been when the candidates stand up and debate each other."

While issuing his challenge Wednesday morning, Houston said Paxton has not been open with the press or the public since he paid a $1,000 fine for violating the Texas Securities Act by soliciting investment clients without being registered with the State Securities Board. 

“One of the most important things in the attorney general’s office is trust,” Houston said. “If you can’t trust an individual, if there is a lack of trust, then there is a big problem.”