The field for the March 4 primary includes incumbent David Dewhurst and three challengers — Houston Sen. Dan Patrick, Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson, and Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples. They have debated before. But those were smaller events held by conservative groups, without live television cameras.
"Outside of David Dewhurst, and outside the Republican Party, a lot of people don't even know who these people are."
Brandon Rottinghaus is an Associate Professor of political science at the University of Houston. He says those earlier debates typically became personal. He expects tonight to be more about the candidates testing messages on their key policies and issues.
"So, for instance, for Todd Staples, it's about abortion, and it's likely about land management. For (Jerry) Patterson, it's gonna be about immigration. For Dan Patrick, it's about making education more private. And for David Dewhurst, it's likely to be trumpeting issues about taxes and about small budgets."
Tonight's debate begins at 8 o'clock. It will be carried live on public television stations across Texas, and right here on KUHF.
Organizers are taking questions from the public for tonight's debate at Twitter #texasdebates.