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Houston Democrats Seek Statewide Support

The state’s leading democratic candidates for governor used last night’s debate as an opportunity to introduce themselves to voters. The two men — former Houston Mayor Bill White and Houston businessman Farouk Shami — exchanged ideas and asked for Texans to consider each of them as a positive change for the state. Laurie Johnson reports.


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The democratic debate, held in Dallas, took a civil tone — each man attempted to make an impression on voters who
may not be familiar with the Houston-based candidates.

The hour-long debate covered everything from healthcare and the economy to abortion and the death penalty.

This is Farouk Shami.

“I will support a moratorium for the death penalty for our state of Texas. We cannot be bragging how many people we execute and execute them innocently. I am against that with all my heart.”

Moderator: “Thank you, Mr. Shami. Now, Mr. White, same question to you — given the recent exonerations, would you support a moratorium on the death penalty?”

White: “No, not in all cases, because that would disrespect the juries and the victims and the criminal justice where there is no question — in those cases where there is no question about the evidence used to convict.”

White and Shami did not always differ in their opinions. Both men say the state budget needs to be scrubbed, line by line. They also both oppose a voter ID law and say more jobs need to be added in Texas. Job growth is one of Shami’s platform issues and he makes some bold claims to which he says voters can hold him accountable.

“We are losing jobs. I’m a person who can innovate and bring jobs. I will guarantee everybody’s job. I am guaranteeing 100,000 jobs in the first two years or I will give the state $10 million. I’m putting my money where my mouth is.”

There were very few accusations or arguments, unlike in the two Republican debates. But when asked about electric deregulation, White did take the opportunity to criticize Gov. Rick Perry.

“You know Gov. Perry talks about holding teachers accountable, but he doesn’t hold himself accountable for his job performance. See in 1999 utility rates in Texas were lower than the average in the rest of the nation. Now our residential utility rates are higher than they are in the rest of the nation, including neighboring states like Oklahoma and Louisiana — much higher.”

White says there need to be some reforms in deregulation and the state should provide assistance such as weatherization to low income residents.

Shami said he would go even further.

“My aim for the state of Texas within ten years you will not have electric bill. We can use our wind and our sun that God blessed us with.”

Shami and White are on the ticket along with five other democrats for the March 2nd primary. The question after that is can a democratic candidate win the governor’s race in Texas in the current political climate?

“I don’t think the New Orleans Saints had ever won a Super Bowl since they were an expansion team, and nobody would have predicted that they would win at the beginning of the season.”

Bill WhiteFarouk Shami

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Laurie Johnson-Ramirez

Laurie Johnson-Ramirez

News Director

Laurie Johnson-Ramirez leads news coverage for Houston Public Media across broadcast and digital platforms. Ramirez is a native Houstonian who started her career at Houston Public Media in 2002. Before becoming News Director, Ramirez held the position of Executive Producer for Daily News, leading daily and breaking news coverage, helping...

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