Texas’ Democratic Senate candidates square off in Austin debate

Texas Politics

AUSTIN (KXAN) — In a little over one month, voters will choose the nominees who will compete for a seat to represent Texas in the Senate.

While incumbent John Cornyn is expected to easily earn the Republican party’s nomination, the race on the Democratic side is wide open.

Six candidates take the stage in front of a packed crowd to make their case for a chance to compete against incumbent John Cornyn. (KXAN Photo: Frank Martinez)

Six of the leading candidates shared their visions in a debate held in Austin on Saturday. Each of them tried to stand out from the pack while speaking at a Texas organized labor conference hosted by the AFL-CIO. 

MJ Hegar is an air force veteran who lives in Round Rock, and called out Sen. Cornyn. 

“He knows he’s going home y’all and if we send a Texas woman to DC to deliver a healthy dose of Texas values, which I don’t see reflected back when I look at D.C., then we’re going to be able to send a boot-licking panty waist of a senator packing,” said Hegar.

Meantime, Royce West currently serves as a Texas State senator representing Dallas County since 1993. 

“If you want someone who can bring people together and has a demonstrated track record of bringing people together, you’re looking at the right person,” said West. 

Chris Bell is a former congressman from Houston who ran an unsuccessful bid for governor in 2006.

“It’s okay to show compassion, and we’ve lost sight of that in the United States,” said Bell. “We don’t show compassion for the low-income, hardworking men and women like all of you, refugees, you go down the list.”

Amanda Edwards also calls Houston home. She currently serves on the city’s council. “You know it and are probably familiar with the old adage that if you are not at the table what you often are is on the menu and we can’t afford to have our working class families be on the menu any longer,” she explained to a packed crowd.

Cristina Tzintzun Ramirez co-founded the Workers Defense Project and currently works as an organizer for the Hispanic community.

“We need a broad, multi-racial coalition to defeat John Cornyn, but not one of us on this stage wins unless we drive up voter turnout and no one knows how to do that better than me,” Ramirez said. 

The final candidate at the debate was Sema Hernandez, a political organizer who promises to prioritize low income workers.

“I’m your person, I’m the one who is going to fight,” she said. “I’ve been fighting and I will continue to do so as a United States senator.”

Whoever earns the nomination in the March primary is expected to face off against Sen. Cornyn. That person will compete for the seat he’s held for the last 18 years.

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