Texas Senate Debate… Democrats included

Something quite unexpected and welcome occurred during last night’s Texas Senate debate. Titled “Conversation with the Candidates” it was produced and Co-Sponsored by Houston Public Media and the Texas Tribune.

For the first time since 2006, the state of Texas had a major political debate in which both Democrats and Republicans were present. Sure the Democrats were outnumbered 4 to 2, but at least both viewpoints were there and were voiced. This was a huge “win” for Texas Democrats even if one of their candidates doesn’t win the seat.

Now you may be thinking “2006? That can’t possibly be true. We had a Gubernatorial election in 2010… Rick Perry vs. Bill White.” Bill White and Rick Perry only participated in Primary debates, but there was never a debate in the General Election. Had Perry debated White, we may have been spared the abysmal performances he gave us in the 2012 Primary Election cycle. You know what they say… Practice makes perfect, right?

As divided as those viewpoints were at times, last night’s debate was quite respectful among the candidates. The presumed GOP front-runner David Dewhurst spent most of his time attacking The President saying that real economic improvement couldn’t occur until we “send Barack Obama back to Chicago, get a good, conservative Republican in the White House that will follow a stable, predictable course.”

Dewhurst also spent much of his time touting his accomplishments along side Rick Perry. Though, it’s fair to say that Texas is no longer under a surplus and education and health care costs for our state continue to surge out of control. He apparently thought it was a record worth sharing.

Ted Cruz spent most of the evening going after Dewhurst for harsh campaign ads, and name-dropping all of the Washington insight he’s built up as an Attrorney arguing before the Supreme Court. Not a whole host of solutions.

It was clear from the debate that former NFL-player Craig James had no prior political experiences. Between living off of mayo sandwiches, fear of “hurting our lizards” during natural gas fracking, and his invaluable life lessons on the goat ranch, his other pie-in-the-sky answers left this viewer non-plussed. He calls for lowering corporate tax rates to 0 percent, and then somehow jobs and business will simply flood our shores. He’s not ready for Prime Time yet.

Among the GOP contenders, the most capable candidate to handle real problems of everyday Texans was former Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert. Even if you don’t agree with his positions, you have to respect him for presenting logical solutions to our state and our nation’s issues. He presented his views with a clarity and poise that wasn’t present in the other Republican candidates. That’s not an endorsement… just a recognition.

The best surprise of the debate was a 31 year-old Dallas business owner named Sean Hubbard. A clear, unapologetic Liberal who stands up for his values, but also presented the logic skills that are so desperately needed in Washington right now. When asked about the future possibility of drought in Texas, he say that “We should be investing now in Deselination plants.” A solution that no other candidate (and most in our state government) have even considered. Though mostly in agreement with his Democratic opponent Paul Sadler, Hubbard maintained a more concise, prominent and straight-forward presence among the group. When discussing Women’s Rights, Hubbard said that it’s “an embarrassment” and stated that “women are more than capable of making their own decisions about their bodies and their health.” He even revealed that for a time his wife used the services of Planned Parenthood “not for abortions, but for cancer screenings”.

After two long hours, my endorsement would have to go to Sean Hubbard for his clarity of thought, innovative solutions and strength of viewpoint. The Honorable Mention would go to Tom Leppert, because even if I didn’t agree with his positions, the willingness to search for real solutions instead of just saying no.

Here’s a link to the full debate. Watch for yourself and form your own opinion.

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