Beto O'Rourke debate; first debate for Texas Senator tonight

O'Rourke, a three-term Democratic congressman from El Paso, is giving up his seat to challenge Cruz, who was first elected to the Senate in 2012. The third will be in San Antonio on October 16.

The race between Cruz and O'Rourke has garnered national attention due to O'Rourke's unlikely popularity as a candidate. A recent Reuters/Ipsos poll gave O'Rourke a slight edge, with 47 percent to Cruz's 45 percent, but that came on the heels of a Quinnipiac University survey that showed Cruz up by nine percentage points.

Mr. O'Rourke was measured in his criticism of Mr. Trump, although he did not dispute Mr. Cruz's point that Mr. O'Rourke is the only Democratic Senate candidate in these midterms who has vowed to vote to impeach Mr. Trump should the chance arise. Cruz responded that "Texans' lives are better" because the Republicans won the presidency in 2016, and he didn't want to be a sore loser.

"You see a lot more O'Rourke signs in affluent Republican-leaning areas than you might typically see for a Democratic candidate".

"I could care less about any party at this moment", O'Rourke said.

Toward the end of the hourlong debate, O'Rourke, the former punk rock bassist who in recent weeks has become a viral Hollywood darling, shouted out London genre pioneers the Clash, and said that Cruz was working for "the clampdown".

A Texas sheriff slammed Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-Texas) for making critical statements about law enforcement's treatment of African-Americans. O'Rourke frequently complained that Cruz was misrepresenting his positions - at one point accusing the incumbent Republican of "slander". O'Rourke shouted out his "uncle Raymond", who taught him to shoot a firearm and was in law enforcement. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.); O'Rourke did what he could to distance himself from modern Democrats.

A truck sporting a billboard plastered with a negative tweet from Trump about Cruz during the presidential campaign was parked outside the debate hall hours before the two men were set to face off.

On the Supreme Court and economics, the specter of President Trump loomed large.

  • Tracy Klein