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Friday, September 13, 2002

Candidates for governor agree to Houston debate

AUSTIN (AP) - Republican Gov. Rick Perry and Democratic challenger Tony Sanchez have agreed to a Houston debate date.

Perry announced Thursday he switched his schedule to allow for a debate with Sanchez on Oct. 9, the date Sanchez said he preferred. Initially, Perry's campaign wanted the debate to be Oct. 16.

"We're pleased that Rick was able to adjust his schedule. It looks like there's going to be a debate in Houston," said Sanchez spokesman Mark Sanders.

The debate is being sponsored by television station KHOU and the Houston Chronicle.

Perry again called on Sanchez to commit to additional debates, particularly in East and West Texas. Perry said voters deserve more than two big-city debates.

The two candidates already had agreed on an Oct. 24 debate in Dallas.

"Two debates are plenty," said Sanders of the Sanchez campaign. It is the first time in at least 12 years that more than one gubernatorial debate will be held, he said.

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Senate candidates weigh in on Bush's speech on Iraq

The two major candidates for U.S. Senate offered some words of support Thursday for President Bush and his United Nations speech against Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.

Republican John Cornyn said it is important for the world to understand that the political leaders of the United States are resolved to remove Saddam and that they are united behind Bush.

The Cornyn campaign, in a prepared statement, accused Democratic nominee Ron Kirk of supporting "the liberal Senate Democrat clique that is frantically trying to find reasons to oppose President Bush's leadership."

Kirk spokesman Robert Gibbs criticized Cornyn's comments, accusing Cornyn of deciding to make "potential American bloodshed a political issue."

Kirk issued a statement commending Bush for "making a compelling case against the oppressive regime of Saddam Hussein and working to build an international coalition to rid the world of this dangerous dictator and his programs to build weapons of mass destruction."

As he has before, Kirk said Saddam's regime should end and said he favors building international support for that goal.

"I also believe that Congress should be consulted and I support ensuring that the debate to give our President his Congressional authority happens as soon as possible," Kirk's statement said.

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Friend of Sanchez threatens to withdraw donation

A Corpus Christi attorney and longtime friend of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tony Sanchez has threatened to withdraw a $5,000 donation for a Sanchez fund-raiser if three top South Texas Democratic lawmakers appear at the event.

In an e-mail to Sanchez's Austin office, lawyer Tony Canales urged the campaign to drop U.S. Rep. Solomon Ortiz, state Sen. Carlos Truan, and state Sen.-elect Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa as honorary guests at the Sept. 23 fund-raiser.

"This crowd is not a Truan, Hinojosa and Ortiz group, this is the doctors' group," Canales wrote in the Aug. 29 e-mail to Susan Longley, an aide in Sanchez's Austin headquarters. "I would dump the three amigos. They are not helping financially or politically. You put them as honorary whatever and it will cost you my $5,000."

The ill feelings stem from a rift within the local party, Ortiz and other Nueces County Democrats told The (McAllen) Monitor.

Ortiz, D-Corpus Christi, said he was told Canales' daughter, Barbara Canales-Black, a former state Senate candidate in the Democratic primary, was working behind the scenes to help the Republican nominee for county judge.

In a return e-mail, Longley suggests inviting the three lawmakers would "soothe some hurt feelings in the community."

Mark Sanders, Sanchez's campaign spokesman, said the three lawmakers are respected elected officials and would be welcome at the fund-raiser.

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