The voters in the audience come from Dallas, Tarrant, Collin, Johnson and Denton counties. Five voters go into the debate supporting Ted Cruz. Another five voters support Dewhurst. Six voters tell us they’re still deciding and evaluating the candidates.
When we asked about the issues most important to them we heard – not surprisingly- about immigration.
"I don’t think we enforce the laws we have on the books and we haven’t done it in many, many years."
That’s Joleen Reynolds, a retired speech pathologist from Fairview.
Johnny Lopez is a retired accountant from Irving.
"I want them to come out and say, ‘Hey, we’re going to put pressure on the corporations that keeping hiring these people that keep coming over here to go to work.’"
Former Dallas Teacher Anna Nelson also wants a Senator who will protect programs for seniors
"The most important things are Medicare and also Social Security. They’re trying to take Medicare away."
Dallas attorney Debbie Georgatos wants someone who will rein in healthcare spending.
"I want the Republicans to stand strong and find free market solutions instead of moving toward more and more like a socialized medicine system."
At the top of the list for nearly all the voters is something more difficult to measure — character.
"I'm not looking for somebody that wants to get along. I want somebody to go to Washington to do what the people of Texas have sent them there to do."
They say that’s what they’ll be looking for tonight when Cruz and Dewhurst square off.
***A panel of journalists including KERA’s Shelley Kofler will lead the questioning when the debate gets underway at 8 p.m.. You can watch the Cruz-Dewhurst debate live on KHOU Channel 8 or listen here on 88.7 FM. For details checkout www.kuhf.org/election2012.