Democratic governor candidates Lupe Valdez and Andrew White will hold their first formal debate in Friday, ahead of the runoff on May 22, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.
"What Andrew White is going to hope is that he is going to display to both the audience and particularly to the media covering the debate that he has policy comptence and his opponents Lupe Valdez does not," Mark Jones, a political analyst at Rice University, told News Radio 1200 WOAI.
The debate will take place at the University of Texas, and is sponsored by a number of Democratic Party groups, including the Texas Stonewall Democrats, the Texas Young Democrats, and the Travis County Democratic Party.
Valdez, who is a San Antonio native and former Dallas County Sheriff, led White by 15 points in the March primary, has been dogged on the campaign trail by allegations that she doesn't understand statewide issues, like school funding and property taxes.
Last week Valdez lost the endorsement of a Hispanic Democrat group, which is the core audience she is appealing to, when she struggled to answer a question about her cooperation with immigration officials as Sheriff.
White, a political novice and Houston investor who is the son of eighties Texas Governor Mark White, has struggled to obtain name recognition and has been labeled a 'moderate Republican' by Valdez and other Democrats.
"This is a case where there are serious questions raised by editorial boards and others about Valdez' competency on the issues," Jones said.
Regardless of who wins the debate, and goes on to win the nomination, the candidate will be a prohibitive underdog in the general election race against Gov. Greg Abbott. Abbott is by far the most popular statewide politician in Texas, and has a massive campaign warchest of more than $50 million, as well as the strong support of Texas Republican groups.