Texas Senate Showdown: Two Parties, One Table

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Last night in Houston, all six major candidates came together on stage to face off. The format was less of a debate than a big interview of all of the candidates.

When Cruz was asked about the Dewhurst campaign's radio ad claiming that he stood up for Chinese copyright infringers, he came out strong: “The reason that he's lying,” he said, “is because conservatives all over this state are uniting behind our campaign.”

Calling another candidate a liar is no small act. With his gain in the most recent poll at his back, Cruz isn't (and shouldn't be) handling Dewhurst with kid gloves. With nutjobs like Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn now in his corner, Cruz's confidence is clearly increasing.

Dewhurst didn't respond to Cruz's charge, instead touting the “Texas model” for the rest of the nation. This week, the Texas Tribune published an extensive piece on Dewhurst's legacy and its core question – is he a skilled politician or a pushover? Democrats point out that whenever extremists want to push Dewhurst around in the Senate, he's caved. Dewhurst's advocates say he has a more subtle approach that has its success reflected in the dozens of influentially insane bills passed under Dewhurst.

Leppert and James gave their usual corporatist boilerplate. James made one particularly dumb, sellout suggestion: make the corporate tax rate 0 percent so we have manufacturers “running back to the country, setting up shop” and, of course, the U.S. goes bankrupt and slides into the third world. But in James' world, a few people would profit off of that, and that's just dandy.

Democrat Sean Hubbard emphasized his regular-guy-ness. “I am the only candidate in this race that understands how legislation and cuts affect average people, because I am the only one who is an average person,” he said. Hubbard also talked about being older than Joe Biden when he first ran for Senate, in response to a question about his age. Sadler focused on education, criticizing the drastic underfunding of education under Republican leadership: “You have to be concerned with what's happening with funding in education in Texas, unless you've just been asleep,” he said. “For the first time in the known history of our state, we're not covering enrollment growth.”

The four Republican candidates do what children do: cover their ears and make nonsense noises. The Democrats are the only ones who take Texas seriously; not just as a profit machine for the 1% but as a place that deserves respect, planning, and honest representation. This contrast could not be more clear. If that clarity is reflected at the voting booth, it'll be a joyous day for our state.

Ed.: This article has been amended to include a quote from Sean Hubbard.

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About Author

Ben Sherman

Ben Sherman has been a BOR staff writer since 2011. A graduate of the University of Texas, Ben has worked on campaigns, in political consulting, and has written for other news outlets like Think Progress. Ben considers campaign finance reform the fundamental challenge of our time because it distorts almost every other issue in American politics.

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