Republican candidates for lieutenant governor talked about everything from abortion to marijuana during the first statewide debate, but the one area that received little attention was education funding.
The first statewide debate started with questions about a state judge's recent decision to allow a Fort Worth family to stop life support for their 23-week pregnant mother after the hospital said it conflicted with one of the state’s pro-life laws.
Current Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples said the statue conflicts with other state laws.
"I do believe the court erred in this situation," Staples said. "I think the next legislative session we going to have to go in and clarify what the meaning of the statute is and remove the ambiguity."
Dan Patrick, currently a state senator from Houston, said in the case of Marlise Muñoz, the pregnant Fort Worth woman who was being held on life support, the courts got it wrong.
"Regardless of the circumstances surrounding that life, we should always do everything to protect that life," Patrick said.
Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson and incumbent Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst also said the law is conflicting and needs to be reformed.
It was apparent throughout the night that the candidates have similar stances on a variety of issues, but there were a few exceptions, like whether the State of Texas should legalize medical marijuana. Patterson differed with his fellow candidates in saying that the state should considered legalizing medical marijuana and decriminalize the drug’s recreational use.
"It may have some medical use, and if it does it’s no difference than codeine or cocaine at one time," he said. "Medicinal uses, we should consider that it’s another chemical."
Patterson also said gun owners should have been allowed to carry their weapons on the night of the "abortion filibuster" and during the final passage of the abortion bill.
There was a slight divide on whether creationism and intelligent design should be taught in school, with Patterson and Dewhurst saying that creationism, intelligent design and evolution should be taught alongside each other as a comparative analysis.
"And then let the students with advice and council and the love of their parents decide for themselves which one of the three they believe in," Dewhurst said.
With a school finance lawsuit wrapping up next week, surprisingly little was said about how Texas funds public education.
Unlike some of their earlier local debates, there were only minor flare-ups between candidates. The last day to register to vote is Feb. 3 and early voting for the March 4 primary begins Feb. 18.