The final debate in the 2014 governor’s race is over, and the winner was clear-cut: Wendy Davis. She was the aggressor from start to finish. Davis hammered Abbott on his $300,000 in contributions from payday lenders and on his cozying up to the insurance industry. She favored Medicaid expansion. He opposed it.

Abbott and Davis also clashed over money for schools. Abbott said “Texas children deserve a first-class education” and talked about his education plan. It is primarily directed at early childhood and pre-K. It does not go beyond the fourth grade. Davis touted her filibuster against the $5.4 billion in cuts imposed by the 2011 Legislature. Abbott’s response on health care was lame. He rolled out a long-discredited idea that Texas should seek block grants from the federal government. It’s straight from the TPPF playbook. We know this won’t work because Rick Perry and TPPF have been trying to get block grants for health care for years, and they have never succeeded in prying money out of the feds.
When the issue of same-sex marriage came up, Davis said, “I favor marriage equality.” Abbott said that the people of Texas had spoken on this issue in a statute passed by the Legislature. “There are good and decent people on both sides of this question,” Abbott allowed, charitably. Davis criticized Abbott for “campaigning with a known sexual predator”: Ted Nugent, of course.

Abbott accused Davis of “wanting to impose Obamacare on Texas.” She responded that she would use an executive order, if necessary, to bring “our tax dollars [for Medicaid expansion] back to Texas.” Abbott, she said, was California’s best friend, because he and Perry effectively deprived Texans of billions of dollars for Medicaid expansion that went to other states: money that county judges and chambers of commerce across the state wanted for their communities and hospitals.

I have the sense that Abbott has spent the last ten years cooped up in a law office. He doesn’t have a real understanding of state government. Davis is a state senator who has fought her battles on the Senate floor. She’s just a lot more knowledgeable about state government than he is–and it showed.

(AP Photo/The Dallas Morning News, Andy Jacobsohn, Pool)