Texas’ two leading Democratic gubernatorial candidates will square off in the televised debate next month but the five other candidates on the ballot won't be joining them.
The debate will be hosted by public TV station KERA/Channel 13. As with KERA's Republican gubernatorial debate earlier this month, the Star-Telegram is a co-sponsor.
Along with White and Shami, five other candidates are running for the Democratic nomination: educator Felix Alvarado, doctor Alma Aguado, private investigator Bill Dear, professor Clement Glenn and home builder Star Locke.
KERA announced today that the five other candidates do not reach the station's criteria to qualify for the debates.
On his blog, Alvarado took issue with KERA's decision that first-time candidate Shami qualified for the debate but others on the ballot did not.
"Obviously, prior political experience is not a major contributing factor," Alvarado wrote. "Bringing out the vote is not a major contributing factor. Being well-qualified..well, it’s subjective. Following KERA’s own developed policy is also not a major factor in inclusion for this debate."
In December, Debra Medina and her supporters launched a campaign to get her invited to KERA's Republican debate. Though the station had told her they would decide in January whether they would invite her to appear alongside Gov. Rick Perry and Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, Medina insisted she had already been excluded and that the station was doing so on Perry's order. KERA ultimately invited Medina to appear at the debate.
The Democratic debate will air at 7 p.m. Feb. 8 on KERA TV and FM radio, on TXA 21 and at www.texasdebates.org. Star-Telegram Austin bureau chief Dave Montgomery will be among those on the panel who will question the candidates.
More info on the debates here.