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Houston Matters

Cruz-O’Rourke Debates: What Are the Risks and Rewards for Each?

Should Republican Sen. Ted Cruz and his Democratic challenger, Rep. Beto O’Rourke, face off in any debates, there are risks for them both. Brandon Rottinghaus explains.

Ted Cruz and Beto O'Rourke
O'Rourke Campaign via Facebook & Pat Sullivan/AP
Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-El Paso) is challenging Republican Sen. Ted Cruz in November.


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Republican Sen. Ted Cruz and his Democratic challenger, Rep. Beto O'Rourke, are still haggling over details for any potential debates the candidates might participate in ahead of the November election. But, while the time, place, and number of debates – if they happen at all – remain in flux, should the two actually face off onstage and on-air, both men face certain risks.

On one hand, by agreeing to debate, Cruz risks helping give O'Rourke a boost in name recognition across the state. Many incumbents like him have declined to debate their opponents.

On the other hand, O'Rourke has never participated in a major, televised debate on the state or national level and would go up against a former collegiate debate national champion who's done this many times on the biggest stages.

So, will these debates actually happen? And, if so, what are the risks and rewards for each candidate – and candidates in general?

In the audio above, Houston Matters host Craig Cohen talks it over with Brandon Rottinghaus, professor of political science and co-host of Houston Public Media's Party Politics podcast.

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