Cruz, O’Rourke debate times set in race getting national attention

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Beto O’Rourke and Ted Cruz will face off Friday evening in the first of three public debates.

The pair are squaring off as polls show the Senate race for Cruz’s seat tightening and likely hinging on voter turnout. The debate will be held at SMU in Dallas and tickets are being distributed by the respective campaigns.

Calvin Jillson, SMU professor of political science, said he thinks both candidates have a background that will allow them to be successful in a debate setting.

“(Cruz) has lots of experience in debating, all the way back to his college days,” Jillson said. “But Beto O’Rourke is an established politician who has a lot of town hall experience.”

Although analysts had expected Republican Cruz to have a fairly easy road to re-election, O’Rourke, House Democrat from El Paso, has mounted a serious challenge. Texas hasn’t elected a Democrat to statewide office since 1988.

Cruz and O’Rourke have agreed to three, hour-long debates each before voters go to the polls for the midterm elections Nov. 6.

Democrats need to gain two seats to take control of the Senate.

The second debate will be on Sept. 30 at the University of Houston, and will focus on foreign policy before a live audience.  ABC 13 (KTRK) in Houston and Univision 45 will broadcast this debate live and anyone is able to submit questions they would like answered by the candidates through ABC13’s website.

The third debate will be Oct. 16 before a live television audience focusing on foreign and domestic policy in San Antonio.

For more information and viewing options for the debate visit NBC 5.