Republican Sen. Ted Cruz will face Democratic challenger Rep. Beto O’Rourke on Friday in Dallas, the first debate of the Texas Senate race.
The debate between Sen. Ted Cruz and Rep. Beto O’Rourke will begin at 7 p.m. ET. Watch live in the player above.
The hourlong debate is being hosted by the Dallas Morning News, Southern Methodist University and KXAS-TV. The debate — the first of three scheduled debates in the race — will take place at Southern Methodist in front of a live audience.
Cruz has led in the polls, but his lead has narrowed in the past few months. A Quinnipiac University poll released Tuesday had Cruz up 54 to 45 percent, but most polls have shown him leading O’Rourke by about 5 points. (An Ipsos/Reuters/University of Virginia poll released Wednesday put O’Rourke two points ahead).
O’Rourke, a third-term U.S. congressman who represents the El Paso area, has outraised Cruz, known as a prolific fundraiser, without accepting corporate PAC money. O’Rourke is outspending Cruz 3-to-1 on television ads, something that has caught the eye of Republicans.
Conservative groups have begun to invest money in the race, which was once considered an easy re-election for Cruz. Texas remains a conservative state, and no Democrat has won a statewide election there since the mid-1990s. But the Senate race is closer than many expected.
President Donald Trump is planning on holding an October rally in Texas to galvanize support for Cruz ahead of the November election.
O’Rourke’s campaign has mostly focused on access to affordable health care, modernizing the nation’s immigration laws, and passing the DREAM Act to protect young undocumented immigrants from deportation. Cruz is running on the strong economy and stricter immigration enforcement.