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Eye on Politics: The Lt. Governor's race, gubernatorial debate preview

Eye on Politics: The Lt. Governor's race, gubernatorial debate preview
Eye on Politics: The Lt. Governor's race, gubernatorial debate preview 17:17

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) -   In this week's episode of Eye on Politics (original airdate: Sep. 29), Jack Fink catches up with Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick on the campaign trail, previews the Texas gubernatorial debate and checks in on the battle over control of the U.S. Congress.

Every week, CBS 11 political reporter Jack Fink breaks down some of the biggest political stories grabbing headlines in North Texas and beyond. Watch the latest episode of Eye on Politics in the video player above and stream new episodes live every Thursday and Friday at 7 p.m. on CBS News DFW.

Race for Texas Lt. Governor

The race for Texas Lt. Governor is heating up.

Two-term Republican incumbent Dan Patrick is on a bus tour of rural Texas. His campaign didn't tell CBS 11 where he was stopping, but political reporter Jack Fink caught up with him in Bowie. Citing a tight schedule, Jack only got to ask three questions.

Jack asked him about his newly unveiled crime plan which he hopes to pass in the legislature next year. 

"Guns are not the problem, it's the people who have the guns," he said. "We need to take them out of the criminals' hands. So we're going to put a ten-year mandatory sentence, if you use a gun in a crime on top of whatever sentence you're receiving for whatever crime if you're found guilty of."

He wants to get tough not just on criminals: "For the judges and DA's who will not follow the law and prosecute crimes under Texas law, we've got to work to find a path to be sure that they can't stay in office."  

Jack also asked him about abortion and what he thought of Republican state Sen. Robert Nichols' recent comments that he supports changing the state's current law so rape victims could legally have the procedure.

Now, abortions are only allowed to save the mother's life.

Patrick said, "On that issue, there's going to be a lot of discussion this session.. We'll see where Republicans and Democrats are, listening to people, we'll move forward. Look, my record is unassailable, I'm pro-life. I'm pro-life for everyone because I never think any baby should be another victim of a crime, but I understand people's thoughts on it, and we'll work through that."

Full interview with Lt. Governor Dan Patrick 03:50

Patrick's Democratic opponent Mike Collier also visited North Texas this week, appearing in Fort Worth with retiring Tarrant County Judge Glenn Whitley. Whitley endorsed him Collier over Patrick.

"In my conversations with Mike, he wants to treat local government as partners and not try to blame them for what the state is not doing," he said.

Collier said he feels as though his campaign is building a coalition not just across the state, but across the aisle: "I'm not sure that happens. It's a great source of pride.

Patrick's campaign has called Whitley a dinosaur and other Republicans have criticized him over his endorsement of Collier. But he's not alone. Retiring state Sen. Kel Seliger, former Lt. Gov. Bill Ratliff and retiring state Rep. Lyle Larson are all Republicans who have also endorsed Collier.

Three recent polls show Patrick leading the race over Collier ranging from six to 11 percentage points.

Race for Texas Governor

In the Texas Governor's race, a new Quinnipiac poll released this week shows incumbent Gov. Greg Abbott with a lead of seven percentage points over his Democratic opponent Beto O'Rourke.

This week, O'Rourke began his college tour across the state, which included a stop at UT Arlington. He's relying on younger voters to turn out.

During college tour stop at UT Arlington, O'Rourke courts voters who analysts say he needs 02:04

The one and only debate between Abbott and O'Rourke is happening tonight at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley in Edinburg.

Jack spoke with Texas Christian University's speech and debate team coach Amorette Hinderaker about the debate. She said it comes down to which candidate has the burden of proof.

"The burden of proof never shifts in a debate," Hinderaker said. "It always lies with he who proposes and so he who brings forth the proposal to change has the burden to prove the justifiability of their change, and in that case frankly, that's O'Rourke because he is not the incumbent."

She said both candidates should focus more on what they want to accomplish during the next four years instead of criticizing their opponent.

Battle for control over U.S. Congress

In this episode of Eye on Politics, Jack also chatted with CBS News Congressional Correspondent Nikole Killion about the battle over control of U.S. Congress. She said that while Republicans are still projected to win a majority in the U.S. House, it's getting tighter by the day.

"Their margins are shrinking in terms of the number of seats they may potentially pick up right now," she said.

The latest CBS News Battleground Tracker is projecting Republicans may pick up about ten seats in the House for a total of 223. Killion said that's down from the 230 projected in July. In terms of the U.S. Senate, that remains a toss-up.

When it comes to party platforms, Killion said for Republicans: "There's a heavy emphasis on strengthening the economy, security in terms of border security as well as public safety, education, creating a parents' bill of rights is something that they want to do and also having more oversight with respect to government and overall accountability."

Killion said Democrats meanwhile are trying to promote some of their legislative wins, most notably the Inflation Reduction Act. 

"They're also looking at this issue of abortion rights as something that may galvanize voters," she said.

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