TX HD-64 candidates discuss primary race, public education at heated runoff debate

TX HD-64 candidates discuss primary race, public education at heated runoff debate

TX HD-64 candidates discuss primary race, public education at heated runoff debate
April 30
23:44 2018

About two dozen people attended the runoff debate between Texas House District 64 candidates Andrew Morris and Mat Pruneda from 4:30 to 6 p.m. Saturday. Joseph Trinkle, the former news director for KNTU 88.1, moderated the debate hosted by Rantt Media and held at the Corinth Campus of North Central Texas College.

The debate, after opening remarks, began with a question about the primary results in which Pruneda finished with 42 percent of the vote, Morris with 39 percent and Matt Farmer, who dropped out, with 20 percent.

“So, a 40-40-20 split indicates one key issue and that’s that both my opponent and I failed in our jobs as candidates,” Morris said. “When a candidate who drops out months before an election day polls 20 percent of the vote, that means that neither of us contacted the voters we needed in order to win.”

Pruneda said he was somewhat happy the primary results came out the way they did.

“I was the last one to enter the race,” Pruneda said. “We actually ran on a shoestring budget. We spent about half of what my opponent did. We were pretty much as grassroots as you could be … We should have gotten our butts handed to us and we didn’t and that tells me that what we did actually resonate with voters.”

Trinkle asked about what both candidates think should be the day one priorities of the Texas Democratic caucus.

Morris stressed the priorities of public education and bringing decorum and decency back to politics while Pruneda said his priority was the environment.

“Well, I’m running on clean air and water,” Pruneda said. “And I’m running on clean air and water because I believe that’s something that’s really important to people in this area.”

The debate became heated multiple times, with the candidates exchanging rebuttals on questions involving rising tuition costs in higher education and who would be the best candidate to push back against “mean-spirited legislation” such as SB 4 and SB 6.

“I have been unapologetically pro-civil rights from the beginning,” Pruneda said in response to the question about SB 4 and SB 6. “I have taken hard stances. I don’t care what people say about me.”

In responding to the question regarding pushing back against “mean-spirited legislation,” Morris spoke on ignoring distractions and resetting Austin’s priorities.

“It comes down to actually making sure that we are voting on the issues that affect each and every one of us, no matter what stage our life is,” Morris said. “We need to be talking about fixing school finance, fixing property taxes.”

Trinkle asked questions for about 45 minutes before opening up the floor to questions from the audience, questions which centered around public education and bringing people back into the Democratic Party.

The closing remarks came in the form of responses to an audience question: “I don’t want you to bad mouth each other, but why would we vote for you instead of your opponent?”

“It’s a challenging question because we both stand for pretty much the same things,” Morris said. “It’s going to come down to approaches, having someone with the right temperament, the right policy ideas with the right ability to get things done in Austin.”

Pruneda answered the question by talking about his strengths.

“Out of the two of us, I’m the only one with negotiating experience,” Pruneda said. “Beyond that, I don’t have some theoretical approach or theoretical background with regards to law and legal requirements.”

Rockwall citizen Michael O’Connor said he enjoyed the debate, even though he can’t vote in this race due to his residence.

“Well, we just came down to see the debate,” he said. “It was more lively than I thought it was going to be.”

Early voting for the primary runoff election will occur May 14 to 18 and the runoff election will take place May 22.

Featured Image: Andrew Morris and Mat Pruneda were candidates in the Democratic Runoff Debate at North Central Texas College Saturday, April 28th. Morris reacts to the Denton primary results and pushing against “mean-spirited” legislation. Kelsey Shoemaker

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Lizzy Spangler

Lizzy Spangler

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