Friday, April 13, 2012

Tx Senate Debate Features Top Four Candidates

Friday night brought a live, televised debate featuring the top four contenders for the U.S. Senate seat open due to a retiring Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison. Lt. Gov David Dewhurst, former Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert, former Tx Solicitor General Ted Cruz and former ESPN broadcaster Craig James made up the candidate roster. It was touted as a Belo Debate.

Dallas-based Belo Corp. announced today that its Texas television stations in Austin, Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston and San Antonio are set to broadcast a live, televised debate among candidates for the Texas Republican U.S. Senate nomination next month.

John McCaa of WFAA-TV (Dallas-Fort Worth) will moderate a panel of journalists including: Sarah Forgany, KENS-TV (San Antonio); Greg Hurst, KHOU-TV (Houston); Tyler Sieswerda, KVUE-TV (Austin); and senior political writer Wayne Slater of The Dallas Morning News.

The Belo Debate will be streamed on the newspaper’s website,, as well as on the host television stations’ associated websites and Belo’s statewide cable news channel, TXCN. Additionally, all radio stations across Texas will be given the opportunity to air the debate. Belo will also make the broadcast available in Spanish to television stations in all markets. PBS stations in Belo markets may air the debate on a tape-delayed basis.

Frankly, the questioners were obviously of the liberal persuasion and pushing the standard Democratic talking points. Slater was particularly obnoxious - rudely interrupting before answers could be given and demanding that the candidates do that stupid hand raising thing for responses. Fortunately, Ted Cruz immediately said the candidates wouldn't play that game. None did.

The one woman on the panel insisted on using her questioning time on the issues of birth control and on religious objections to social policy. Instead of asking serious policy questions that the voter is concerned with - perhaps national security or education or the exploding federal deficit would have been germane choices.

Tom Leppert was strong in painting Dewhurst as a career politician and Cruz as a lawyer. He didn't, however, go into James' sports career. Leppert was touting his business experience, as the economy is the most important issue to voters. Then he was asked about his involvement with Washington Mutual as it went into financial dire straits during the government bailout phase. He had to do a bit of dancing about that subject.

As is his habit, Ted Cruz brought his attacks to Dewhurst. He pointed to the expansion of state government during the Dewhurst years and that Dewhurst hasn't cut excess government spending and programs. Also, Dewhurst's contributions from lobbyists was brought under scrutiny.

Craig James is a newbie to seeking political office and it shows at times with some of his rather naive answers. He told one questioner that he has "absolutely nothing" in which he agrees with Barack Obama. Really? Nothing? That is beyond silly. He tried to attack Ted Cruz on not endorsing Rick Santorum - of whom Craig describes as the "true" conservative in the presidential race - as he did. Frankly, I thought it was not the best idea to be endorsing a presidential candidate as one runs for the Senate but that was his choice. James made it clear that social issues are front and center for his candidacy so that would be his big tie with Santorum.

Ted Cruz is my choice of candidate in this race. Full disclosure - I have endorsed Cruz in this race and blog for his campaign as a "blogger for Cruz". I think he will be a consistent fighter in Washington for fiscally conservative legislation and persuade others to listen to conservative constituents. I also think he can work with the other side of the aisle to move the conservative agenda forward.

Cruz has solid debate skills. He has the experience of arguing before the Supreme Court of the United States and he has a winning record. That counts in a deliberative body like the U.S. Senate.

The Texas primary is May 29, 2012.

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