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Politics & Government

Ted Cruz declines, so challenger Beto O’Rourke gets an hour on national TV by himself


Editor’s note: This story has been updated to include comment from Ted Cruz’s staff.

CNN is shining a light on three of the “most consequential races” in 2018 — including the Texas bid for U.S. Senate — through debates or town halls in the coming weeks.

But Texans won’t get to see both incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz and Democratic challenger U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke of El Paso in this series.

“Sen. Ted Cruz (R) declined CNN’s invitation to participate in the town hall,” a CNN statement noted.

So O’Rourke will be featured in a live, one-hour town hall with CNN Chief Political Correspondent Dana Bash in South Texas on Oct. 18.

The Cruz campaign did not immediately respond Tuesday afternoon to a request on why the senator will not participate.

But Cruz campaign manager Jeff Roe tweeted: “To be clear, the Cruz campaign proposed that @CNN host one of the Cruz-O’Rourke debates. The O’Rourke campaign declined. @CNN subsequently offered back to back town halls, in which we are unable to participate.”

O’Rourke’s solo town hall will air at 9 p.m. central time Oct. 18 and be televised from the McAllen Performing Arts Center.

The other two races that will be featured in CNN debates: Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson and Gov. Rick Scott in a U.S. Senate debate. That debate will air at 9 p.m. Oct. 16. And Republican Rep. Ron DeSantis and Democratic Mayor Andrew Gillum in a 7 p.m. Oct. 21 Florida gubernatorial debate.

Cruz and O’Rourke, who participated in a Sept. 21 debate at SMU, are expected to square off at least one more time in an Oct. 16 debate in San Antonio.

Battle for Senate

The fight for this Senate seat, represented by Republicans since 1993, has become more competitive than expected.

It has become one of the costliest and most watched races across the country, as many wonder if O’Rourke can do what no other Democrat has done for more than two decades in Texas: win a statewide office.

Republicans have said they believe O’Rourke’s election bid “is a serious threat” to Cruz’s re-election.

Polls have fluctuated back and forth, giving each candidate the edge at different times, indicating what a tight race this could be.

Early voting for the Nov. 6 mid-term election runs from Oct. 22-Nov. 2.

Anna Tinsley: 817-390-7610, @annatinsley
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