Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Paul Sadler and Republican candidate Ted Cruz bypassed policy discussion in favor of fierce accusations Tuesday evening, said a UT student who watched the debate.
The two Senate candidates, vying for the position left open after Republican Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison’s announcement of her retirement, participated in the first of two debates, where they discussed the role of government in society, taxes, health care reform and immigration. Most of the debate, however, involved repeated interruptions and accusations thrown from both sides.
Danny Zeng, communications director for College Republicans, said he was disappointed that the debate did not include a more substantive discussion of the issues that mattered.
“I think it’s one of those debates where voters don’t learn anything,” Zeng said. “It’s really more of a theatrical event than anything.”
Sadler, who served as a state representative from 1991 to 2003, criticized Cruz for not agreeing to participate in more than two televised debates.
“What are you afraid of, Ted?” Sadler asked. “The bottom line is that you know that I know you don’t know enough about government.”
Cruz, a former Texas solicitor general, said there are problems with the current presidential administration.
“I do think that part of the philosophy of President Obama and this administration is trying to get as many Americans as possible dependent on government so the Democrats can stay in power in perpetuity,” Cruz said.
On the topic of job creation, Sadler said Cruz’s lack of experience outside of government made him less qualified to spur job growth once in office.
“You have worked for the government,” Sadler said. “You haven’t created jobs. You haven’t owned a small business. I have.”
Associate government professor Sean Theriault said it would require an unforeseen development to make the Senate race competitive.
“If the race isn’t shaken up, it’s going to be Ted Cruz in a landslide,” Theriault said. “Sadler’s got to change the race dynamic in some meaningful way so that people who aren’t paying attention start paying attention. And even if they start paying attention, he still has a lot of work to do.”
Leslie Tisdale, president of University Democrats, said voters should look beyond party affiliation when assessing the two Senate candidates.
“Voters really just need to look at the two candidates individually instead of just looking at parties, and in this case one candidate, Paul Sadler, is obviously more qualified and more prepared for the position,” Tisdale said.
The candidates will meet again in a second debate Oct. 19.