10 Things to Know About Beto, Cruz Before Friday Night’s Debate

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Beto O’Rourke is set to face off with Ted Cruz in the first of three senatorial debates to take place in Dallas, Houston and San Antonio. The first debate will be held on the campus of Southern Methodist University at 6 p.m. tomorrow.

The main topic will be domestic policy, and the debate will be moderated by Dallas Morning News reporter Gromer Jeffers. Here are ten facts you need to know about these two candidates before tomorrow night.

Ted Cruz
Have you met Ted? Photo credit: Creative Commons

Five Things to Know about Ted Cruz

Ted Cruz is a formidable debater.

In undergraduate and graduate school, Cruz made a name for himself as one of the most polished debaters on the collegiate circuit. In 1992, Cruz won the Speaker of the Year Award for both the U.S. National Debate Championship and North American Debate Championship. In 1995, while he was at Harvard Law School, Cruz reached the World Universities Debate Championship semifinals with his teammate David Panton. Cruz is still regarded as one of the most skilled orators in the country, and is a good match for any opponent.

Cruz is in good standing, according to history.

The state of Texas has not elected a Democrat to the Senate since 1988 when it re-elected Lloyd Bentsen to his fourth term in office. What does this mean for Cruz? In a state that belonged to the “Solid South” and has consistently voted for Republicans since 1988, Cruz will most likely win re-election because of his partisan politics. The closest margin of victory for a Republican came in 1996 when incumbent Sen. Phil Gramm defeated Victor Morales by 10.9 percent. Historically, Texas has been a Republican-leaning state, and, on that merit alone, Cruz should feel confident in re-election, even if it might be a close race.

Fundraising may not be a big issue for Cruz.

When Ted Cruz first took the national scene by storm, he did so by thoroughly beating his challenger David Dewhurst, the Lieutenant Governor under Rick Perry. In the campaign, Dewhurst raised $19 million compared to Cruz’s $7 million. This election cycle has been a different story with both candidates raising similar amounts of money. Both candidates have raised $23.3 million for their campaigns. The campaigns still have plenty of money according to the campaign financial statements, and spending should increase as Election Day nears. Funding for a campaign is by no means an indication of how it may turn out, so Cruz should worry very little about the fact his opponent has raised a historically unprecedented amount of money to challenge him.

Cruz also doesn’t go by his full name.

In a Washington Post piece from March 7, 2018, Cruz accused his challenger, Beto O’Rourke, of changing his name in order to appeal to voters. Shortly after the jingle criticizing O’Rourke’s use of his traditionally Hispanic nickname, reports pointed out Ted’s given name is Rafael Edward Cruz. This is something Cruz talks very little about openly, but it is worth noting that someone who prides himself on his Cuban heritage has stripped it from his given name. Furthermore, O’Rourke will upon occasion identify as Robert “Beto” O’Rourke, making Cruz’s attempted smearing all the more tenuous for Cruz’s own campaign.

In the aftermath, Cruz admitted that he does the same thing to CNN’s Chris Cuomo. (It should also worry Cruz that O’Rourke has a 2-to-1 advantage among Hispanic voters.)

The polls still favor Cruz.

A poll from Ipsos recently reported Beto O’Rourke holding a two-point lead over Ted Cruz. The poll has a four point margin of error, which means that both candidates are drawing similar amounts of support. However, another poll came out from Quinnipiac University that had Cruz holding a nine-point advantage over O’Rourke, which is more closely aligned with the other major polls. As such, Cruz should pay attention to this poll, but the upcoming debates could be an area where Cruz is able to shine and secure more room in the polls.

The polls have shown an up-and-down pattern for most of the race, so this could just be a sign that the race is tightening once more. Cruz shouldn’t lose sleep over this poll, though he should heed its potential warning.

Beto O'Rourke
Bet you didn't know these things about Beto. Photo credit: Creative Commons

Five things to know about Beto

Beto O’Rourke is a former rockstar

In his high school days, O’Rourke was a member of a band called “Foss.” His political opponents have tried to use his punk past against him by circulating a photo of him and his band mates with the caption “Sorry, can’t debate. We have a gig” in an attempt to mock him.

He believes in universal healthcare coverage
Texas has the highest maternal mortality rate in the country, and with one of the highest uninsured rates, it is clear that the issue of healthcare needs to be addressed. O’Rourke views healthcare as a basic human right that transcends politics. He plans to expand Medicaid to make it more inclusive for vulnerable Texans, specifically children, the disabled and the elderly. He has supported a single payer universal healthcare system, notably advocated for by Senator Bernie Sanders.

O’Rourke’s campaign is free of PACs and corporate funding

In an attempt to stay free of special interests and gain the trust of his constituents, The El Paso congressman has funded his campaign without money from political action committees or corporations. At a Dallas 2017 campaign event, he said, “I don’t want you worried that when I’m taking a vote, making a decision, writing a bill, looking at an amendment, that I’m listening to anyone but you, the people that I want to serve and that I want to represent.”

He was arrested, twice.

As a student at the University of Texas at El Paso, Beto O’Rourke jumped a fence and was arrested for forcible entry. Three years later, he was arrested for driving under the influence for which we was referred to a diversion program. In an op-ed written for the Houston Chronicle, Beto wrote, “those mistakes did not ultimately define me or stop me from what I wanted to do in my life or how I wanted to contribute to the success of my family and my community — as a father, small business owner, city council member, and congressman. The chance that I had, and which I have made the most of, is denied to too many of our fellow Texans, particularly those who don’t look like me or have access to the same opportunities that I did.”

He went viral defending Colin Kaepernick, claiming there was “Nothing more American” than the peaceful NFL protest

O’Rourke was asked at a town hall to address the NFL players protests, and whether or not he considered kneeling during the national anthem disrespectful. A four-minute video of his response went viral, gaining more than 40 million views. It garnered national support for the hopeful senate candidate. In the video, O’Rourke acknowledged there are many different opinions, and claims “reasonable people can disagree on this issue, and it makes them no less American to come down on a different conclusion.” O’Rourke finds the issue of African Americans “being killed at a frightening level right now, including by members of law enforcement, without accountability and without justice” is something that deserves to be addressed. He highlights the history of non-violent struggle in the U.S. for racial justice, and compares famous acts of resistance in history to that of the protest. O’Rourke said, “I can think of nothing more American than to peacefully stand up, or take a knee, for your rights, any time, anywhere, in any place.”

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