AUSTIN, Texas — Early voting is underway in the Texas 2020 primary election and voters have a chance to choose everything from presidential nominees to U.S. Senate candidates.
On Tuesday, KVUE hosted a U.S. Senate Democratic primary debate, just weeks before the March 3 election, which will determine which of those Democratic candidates will face either incumbent Sen. John Cornyn or one of four other Republican candidates in the November general election.
Eleven of the 12 Democrats participated in Tuesday's debate. The candidates were former U.S. Representative Chris Bell, Michael Cooper, Amanda Edwards, Jack Daniel Foster, Annie “Mama” Garcia, Victor Harris, MJ Hegar, Sema Hernandez, Adrian Ocegueda, Cristina Tzintzun Ramirez and State Sen. Royce West.
KVUE posted the candidates' answers to all of the debate's questions on the KVUE YouTube channel.
The debate started with the same question for all of the candidates: which President Trump policy do they support?
Another question that was asked to all of the candidates was the best quality, in one word, that qualifies them to beat Cornyn. Some of those answers included Cooper saying "servant," Garcia saying "corazon" ("heart" in Spanish), West answering "experience," Bell answering "compassion," Harris saying "experience and education" and Hegar answering "fighter."
A recent UT/Texas Tribune Poll found that Hegar leads the pack with 22% support. According to the Texas Tribune, the biggest problem for the group is that most voters haven't heard of any candidates, but Hegar was the best known.
Some candidates Tuesday night went in with attacks against Hegar.
"When a PAC of hers has been putting out adds that covers nothing about issues," Ocegueda said in part.
"The fact is, you did not beat John Carter," Garcia said.
Hegar responded by defending her campaign.
"We lost by 2.9 and still outperformed all of the statewide candidates, including Beto," Hegar said in part.
Behind Hegar in the UT/Texas Tribune poll is Tzintzun Ramirez, in second with 9%.
"We need a candidate that can speak to the rich diversity of who the Texas Democratic Party is," Ramirez said in part Tuesday.
One big talking point of the night was how the candidates feel about legalizing marijuana.
"You should be high on life," Foster Jr. said at one point. "I'm definitely for legalizing marijuana."
"It could be an extraordinary cash crop for farmers here in Texas," Bell said.
Health care was also a big topic.
"We have to fix Medicaid, expand that immediately, and then work towards Medicare for all," Cooper said.
"I want universal health care that looks like Spain, with no co-pays, no co-insurance," Garcia said.
"Also we need to make sure we're closing the short-term insurance loopholes," Edwards said in part.
One question asked of all candidates was whether they support Senator Bernie Sanders's Medicare-for-all bill as it is currently written.
And one of the highlights of the night was Hegar's closing statement, directed right to Cornyn.
"Pack it up, buttercup. Because I'm coming for your seat, and I'm going to take it back for the people of Texas," she said.
You can watch the full debate here.
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