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Second Debate for Dewhurst and Cruz Tonight

Bob Daemmrich for Texas Tribune
U.S. Senate candidates Cruz (left) and Dewhurst (right).

Former Texas Solicitor General Ted Cruz and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst will debate for the second time this evening as they head into the final push towards a runoff election for the U.S. Senate. The seat is being vacated by retiring Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison.

The event will be carried on WFAA in Dallas and streamed live on The debate could intensify the already contentious tone between the two. 

Despite the bitter campaign, the two agree on most major issues. Both are calling for the repeal of President Obama's Affordable Care Act, stronger border security and fewer regulations on business. Agreement on the issues may help explain recent character attacks, making honesty rather than policy a major theme in the campaign.

Dewhurst was quoted in the The Texas Tribune as saying earlier this month,

“Mr. Cruz hasn’t said one thing that’s true so far in this campaign. … I think the main thing Texans want to have in their United States senator is integrity and honesty. I’m tired of Washington politicians that won’t tell the truth.”

Most recently, Cruz has accused Dewhurst of deceiving the public about his prior support for payroll taxes, the Tribune reported.

PolitiFact Texas found neither was entirely honest.

Voter turnout for the runoff is expected to be low. That may be another reason the campaigns are trying to energize voters with character issues. Some believe low turnout favors Cruz, whose Tea Party supporters are seen as more passionate.

Turnout was between 16 and 11 percent in the May U.S. Senate primaries, depending on how the figure is calculated. Turnout for the last presidential election in Texas was 46 percent but only 26 percent for the 2010 elections involving U.S. Representatives, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

The runoff election is July 31. Early voting starts next Monday, July 23.

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