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Crime is one of the hot-button issues Gov. Greg Abbott, Beto O'Rourke are talking about in Houston

The Republican incumbent and his Democratic challenger are making campaign stops here in the heated battle for Texas governor.

HOUSTON — With the November election eight weeks away, the race for Texas governor is ramping up as Beto O'Rourke fights to unseat Gov. Greg Abbott. While the Democratic challenger has gained some ground in recent polls, the Republican incumbent is still ahead in the battle to lead the Lone Star State.

The hot-button topics include abortion rights, border security and crime, which was Abbott's main focus during his campaign stop in Houston on Tuesday.

Abbott was joined by Houston Police Officers Union President Douglas Griffith and other local law enforcement at his "Back the Blue" news conference. He blamed judges and the bail system for crime in the Houston area.

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“Last week, the Harris County Sheriff’s Office charged two suspects with murder in connection with the shooting death of Precinct 3 Deputy Constable Omar Ursin. The suspects were free on bond from Harris County murder charges just last year," Abbott said.

One of the governor's campaign ads touts the endorsements of police unions around the state, including HPOU.

O'Rourke responded with his own video where members of law enforcement speak out against the law that some blame for the increase in mass shootings and other violent crimes.

"Every Texan needs to know that Greg Abbott made us less safe by ignoring law enforcement and allowing people to carry guns in public without a background check, training, or permit," O'Rourke tweeted Monday when he shared the video.

Last week, Houston Police Chief Troy Finner joined Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and called on Texas lawmakers to pass what they called "common sense gun laws."

Turner said not a single state law has changed in the nearly 100 days since the Robb Elementary School shooting in Uvalde that left 19 children and two teachers dead. The mayor said a new report shows mass shootings in Texas have risen from 40 to 65 since Gov. Greg Abbott signed the permitless carry bill into law last year and he wants that law reversed.

Another Abbott ad claims O'Rourke wants to defund the police.

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“Across America, there are too many scenes like this. Beto O’Rourke’s answer is to defund and dismantle the police. He wants to punish the police, not the criminals,” Abbott says in the ad. “I support our law enforcement by ensuring that they are fully funded."

O'Rourke has disputed the claim at campaign rallies.

“I want to make sure we can count on the police and that means making sure they have the resources and funding they need, the training that they need,” O'Rourke said.

Chris Evans, the spokesperson for O'Rourke's campaign, said O’Rourke repeatedly voted to increase the police budget as a member of the El Paso City Council and as a Democratic congressman.

O'Rourke will appear at a bilingual Latinos con Beto Rally in Houston Monday night, calling it a "family-friendly event featuring face painters, live mariachi, and more."

After the news conference Monday afternoon, Abbott sat down for an exclusive one-on-one interview with KHOU 11 anchor Len Cannon.

On Monday night, Abbott will attend "A Conversation About Critical Issues Facing Our Community" fireside chat at the Republican Jewish Coalition Houston Chapter, alongside Ambassador Nikki Haley.

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