Paul Sadler

Republican candidate for U.S. Senate Ted Cruz, left, and his wife Heidi celebrate during a victory speech Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012, in Houston.
Photo Credit: The Associated Press

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Ted Cruz scored an unsurprising victory over Democrat Paul Sadler, becoming the first Hispanic to represent Texas in the Senate.

Cruz, a self-described “constitutional conservative” backed by the Tea Party, was a strong favorite to win the Senate seat throughout the race. A poll from the University of Texas and The Texas Tribune released last month showed Cruz with a 16-point lead over Sadler, 55 percent to 39 percent. Texas has not elected a Democrat to statewide office since 1994.

The race between Cruz and Sadler, a former state legislator and attorney, was relatively quiet in the months leading up to the election in comparison to the heated Republican primaries earlier this year. During the race, Sadler raised nearly $359,000 between July and September, a low figure compared to the $3.5 million Cruz raised.

Cruz will take over the seat vacated by Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, Texas’ senior statewide officeholder, who has been representing Texas in the Senate for more than 17 years. Hutchinson, who in 1993 became the first woman to represent Texas in the Senate, announced in January of last year she would not seek re-election in 2012.

If elected, Cruz pledged to do away with President Barack Obama’s health care reform and to lower the amount of spending in Washington. He also denounced Obama’s deferred action for undocumented youth and opposes the DREAM Act, legislation that would legalize certain young, undocumented immigrants.
Cruz also favors strict voter ID laws that require voters to show identification. According to his website, Cruz will aim to pass a balanced budget amendment and reduce government size and spending during his term.

During the Republican primaries in July, Cruz was able to score a surprising victory over Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, who was considered the race’s frontrunner throughout the majority of the primary. Despite having never run for public office and being relatively unknown in Texas, Cruz decided to take on Dewhurst, who spent $19 million of his own money on his campaign and had the support of several Texas Republicans, including Gov. Rick Perry.

During his campaign to win the primary, Cruz was backed by the Tea Party and drew support from former U.S vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin and money from national conservative groups.

Cruz is the former Solicitor General of Texas and was the first Hispanic to hold that position. He has argued nine cases before the Supreme Court, among which he successfully defended the Ten Commandments monument on the Texas State Capitol grounds and the recitation of the words “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools. Cruz is also a former adjunct law professor at the University of Texas, where he taught U.S. Supreme Court litigation.

The United States shares something in common with China, Iran, Iraq and Saudi Arabia. We, like them, use the death penalty. According to the Nobel Peace Prize-winning human rights group Amnesty International, the United States ranks fifth in executions among every country in the world.

Although not everyone is in agreement about the death penalty, rarely does the topic arise in political debates these days. “[The death penalty is] rarely ever discussed, and it’s never discussed on a federal level. I have not had a single inquiry from the media about it during this U.S. Senate race ... until now,” said Paul Sadler, Texas’ Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate.

Most people would agree that other issues, like the economy, are more important to Americans than the death penalty right now, but that’s no reason to ignore the topic. Unfortunately, Texas politicians provide little diversity in their views about capital punishment. Republican candidate Ted Cruz, who did not reply to my interview request, supports the death penalty. Sadler, too, agrees with our current use of capital punishment, and thinks his view is common. “I think if most Texans didn’t agree with it,” Sadler said, “we wouldn’t have it as our law.”

The Libertarian candidate for U.S. Senate, John Jay Myers, opposes the death penalty. “It is impossible,” Myers said, “to make the burden of proof high enough to prevent executing the innocent, and two wrongs do not make a right.”  He does think supporters of the death penalty have good intentions, but their efforts are misguided. “The establishment politicians are asking the wrong questions,” he said. “They are asking, ‘How should we penalize violent criminals?’ But they should be asking, ‘What can we do to reduce the causes of violence in the first place?’”

Kristin Houle, the executive director of the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, became involved with the issue while she was student at the University of Kentucky. Like Myers, she thinks that most Texans have good intentions, but that they’re unaware of the problems with capital punishment. “I think that most Texans want a justice system that is fair, accurate, and reliable,” she said. “I believe most people do not know enough about the realities of the death penalty system and its fatal flaws and failures.”

Voices on our own campus speak out against the death penalty as well. Anne Kuhnen, who leads the Texas Amnesty International’s Committee to Abolish the Death Penalty, considers capital punishment “an unjust and inhumane punishment that is a violation of basic human rights. It does not deter crime, it does not bring justice for crimes, and it is racially and economically biased. It also sends the wrong message to murderers. State killing is just as bad as any other kind of killing. Most importantly, it is not foolproof. Innocent people are regularly convicted.”

Ashley Brandish, a freshman from Dallas, opposes the death penalty as well, mostly for ethical reasons. “As a member of a moral community,” she said, “we have interests in life, and to deprive someone of that is and should be considered morally prohibited regardless of the circumstances.”

But why does it seem like most UT students ignore the issue altogether?  “I think most UT students don’t think much about this issue because it doesn’t affect them,” Kuhnen said. “However, I’m firmly convinced that if more people realized what a terrible practice it is, and how it looks to the rest of the world that we still use capital punishment, they would not support it. I also think if students realized how much it costs despite how ineffective it really is in deterring capital crimes they might start to question it more.”

It will be no easy task to get Texas to eliminate the death penalty. Since 1976, Texas has executed far more people than any other state, accounting for 487 of America’s 1,309 executions. The death penalty is literally a matter of life and death, and therefore it is an issue that needs to be discussed. Brian Cutter, a philosophy graduate student, said, “At the federal level, the issue of the death penalty is hardly addressed at all. It hasn’t come up once in the presidential debates.”  Unless we as citizens show that the issue is important to us — which it should be — our politicians will continue to ignore it.

Especially in Texas in an election year, we must examine the use of capital punishment. Gov. Rick Perry has ordered the executions of 234 people, including some, like Cameron Todd Willingham in 2004, who were convicted on questionable evidence.

Minorities are particularly hurt by the death penalty — although African-Americans alone make up nearly half of all homicide victims, 77 percent of victims in cases that resulted in capital punishment were white. “For one, there’s not enough checks and balances on the whole process,” Cutter said. “The current implementation of the death penalty in Texas is unjust, especially in its disproportionate targeting of minorities and poor people. However, even if the implementation of capital punishment could be improved, it still wouldn’t be morally justifiable.”

There is reason for hope. The last four years have seen fewer death sentences than any time after 1976 in the United States. America’s youth, especially us Longhorns, I hope, could lead the way to a world without capital punishment. As Mahatma Gandhi once said, “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.”  In order to uphold America’s fairness and overall humanity, we must kill the death penalty, or at least discuss it.

McCann is a Plan II freshman from Dallas. 

From now until Nov. 6, Austin residents, including UT students registered to vote in Travis County, have the opportunity to participate in democracy and make their voices heard about the direction in which they want to take our city, state and country. This election is not just about Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. On the ballot are seven city charter amendments, 11 bond propositions and dozens of contests for city, state and national office. We feel strongly about the outcomes of the following races:

U.S. Senate: Paul Sadler (D)

Barring the most dramatic upset in recent political memory, Democratic nominee Paul Sadler is going to lose his U.S. Senate bid. In the race for retiring Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison’s seat, the Republican nominee Ted Cruz leads Sadler dramatically in fundraising — $11.8 million to $500,000 — and by 26 percent of those asked in a Texas Lyceum poll conducted earlier this month. That’s unfortunate, because Sadler would be better than Cruz for Texas and the country by an equally outsized margin.

Cruz, an Ivy League-educated former solicitor general of Texas, has attracted mountains of funding and endorsements from nationally prominent conservatives like Jim DeMint, Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck by wholeheartedly espousing the mean-spirited, ignorant and dangerous ideology of the Tea Party. He has enthusiastically stated his wish to completely abolish, among other things, the Department of Education, which would completely end all federal financial aid for college students and end public education as we know it. Cruz’s illogical and radical positions in juxtaposition to his more subdued academic and professional accomplishments raise a question that has not been adequately answered: Does he really believe what he’s saying? He should know that most of his propositions aren’t plausible, let alone advisable. If he does know better, then he’s capitalizing on the ignorance of his constituency to catapult himself to power. He has no legislative experience whatsoever, so we have no way of knowing whether he’s an ideologue or just an operator, but either way, he’s a bad bet.

Sadler, in contrast, has had a distinguished 12-year career in the Texas House, with a proven record of both bipartisanship and good judgment. Many of us at UT are beneficiaries of his hard work as chairman of the Texas House Public Education Committee from 1995 to 2003. Among the issues he supports are the passage of the DREAM Act, marriage equality for all Americans, adequate funding for public schools, teacher pay raises and effective aid for veterans’ transitions back to civilian life. He’s an extremely intelligent leader and an effective legislator who consistently works well with colleagues across the aisle. We know what kind of senator Paul Sadler would be ­— a damn good one.

State Board of Education, District 5: Rebecca Bell-Metereau

The race for State Board of Education is perennially overshadowed by sexier, more exciting races at the top of the ballot, but it’s worth taking an active interest in that contest this time. The Texas State Board of Education’s hard-line conservatism and radical, politically motivated decisions about what Texas students should and shouldn’t be allowed to learn presents an extreme danger and cannot be allowed to continue. Seemingly, every few months or so another member of the 15-person board starts talking about dinosaurs on Noah’s Ark, praising the Confederacy or removing references to the slave trade, evolution, civil rights leaders and hip-hop music in public school textbooks. But the most mystifying thing about these reactionary champions of ignorance is how they manage to hold office at all. With that in mind, we’re endorsing the Democratic candidate, Texas State professor Rebecca Bell-Metereau, in the race for District 5’s representative on the board. She’s running for the second time against Ken Mercer, one of the most outspoken revisionists on the board. Mercer believes in teaching intelligent design, saying, “Any real scientist understands there are major weaknesses in evolution.” Mercer, a software engineer, also vehemently opposes protecting students against discrimination based on sexual orientation and routinely says things like, “The most discriminated people in this country are not blacks or Hispanics, or any other groups of color or race,” but rather “any Christian American who would dare stand up for the protection of their family.”

We have the opportunity this fall to make the State Board of Education more grounded in reality, and we should take it. Texas students need to be properly educated if our state is going to succeed in the future.

Proposition 1: For

Proposition 1, a property tax increase for Travis County that would pay for a new UT medical school, teaching hospital and other health care initiatives in Austin, would be extremely beneficial to this University’s reputation and, more importantly, the health, economy and well-being of our city. While the tax increase is substantial, even after it takes effect Austin’s health care tax burden will still be the lowest in the state. In addition, the initiative would not only provide Austinites with an excellent new health care option, but would also create thousands of jobs and stimulate the city’s economy. In our view, the tax increase is a necessary evil because, according to the University, it’s the only viable option to pay for the medical school and its associated benefits. The pros far outweigh the cons. Prop. 1 is a net gain for Austin.

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Paul Sadler and Republican candidate Ted Cruz bypassed policy discussion in favor of fierce accusations Tuesday evening, said a UT student who watched the debate.

The two Senate candidates, vying for the position left open after Republican Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison’s announcement of her retirement, participated in the first of two debates, where they discussed the role of government in society, taxes, health care reform and immigration. Most of the debate, however, involved repeated interruptions and accusations thrown from both sides.

Danny Zeng, communications director for College Republicans, said he was disappointed that the debate did not include a more substantive discussion of the issues that mattered.

“I think it’s one of those debates where voters don’t learn anything,” Zeng said. “It’s really more of a theatrical event than anything.”

Sadler, who served as a state representative from 1991 to 2003, criticized Cruz for not agreeing to participate in more than two televised debates.

“What are you afraid of, Ted?” Sadler asked. “The bottom line is that you know that I know you don’t know enough about government.”

Cruz, a former Texas solicitor general, said there are problems with the current presidential administration.

“I do think that part of the philosophy of President Obama and this administration is trying to get as many Americans as possible dependent on government so the Democrats can stay in power in perpetuity,” Cruz said.

On the topic of job creation, Sadler said Cruz’s lack of experience outside of government made him less qualified to spur job growth once in office.

“You have worked for the government,” Sadler said. “You haven’t created jobs. You haven’t owned a small business. I have.”

Associate government professor Sean Theriault said it would require an unforeseen development to make the Senate race competitive.

“If the race isn’t shaken up, it’s going to be Ted Cruz in a landslide,” Theriault said. “Sadler’s got to change the race dynamic in some meaningful way so that people who aren’t paying attention start paying attention. And even if they start paying attention, he still has a lot of work to do.”

Leslie Tisdale, president of University Democrats, said voters should look beyond party affiliation when assessing the two Senate candidates.

“Voters really just need to look at the two candidates individually instead of just looking at parties, and in this case one candidate, Paul Sadler, is obviously more qualified and more prepared for the position,” Tisdale said.

The candidates will meet again in a second debate Oct. 19.

Editor’s note: On Oct. 2, U.S. Senate candidates Paul Sadler (D) and Ted Cruz (R) had their first televised debate. After arguing about how many more debates the pair would have before the Nov. election, Cruz and Sadler discussed economic philosophy, the national budget and health care. No mention was made of Texas college students. The best quotes follow, and more are available at

On economic philosophy:
C: I do think part of the philosophy of President Obama and this administration is trying to get as many Americans as possible dependent on government so that the Democrats can stay in power in perpetuity.

C: Most Americans don’t want to stay dependent on the government. They want to work for the American dream they want to work to provide for themselves and their families and I think that’s why the Obama administration’s objective of essentially using bread and circuses to make as many people as possible dependent on government to keep voting Democrat is not succeeding, because Americans want to stand on their own two feet.

S: That’s the craziest thing I’ve ever heard in my life. You’re seriously accusing the president of using a government program to manipulate people to not get a job to be dependent on the government for services. Are you really accusing the president of the United States of that? That’s just crazy, Ted.

C: What Texans are looking for — what is inherent, I think, in the ethos of Texans is we’re not looking for a handout. We’re looking for the opportunity to stand on our own two feet, to be entrepreneurs.

On balancing the national budget:
S: We actually doubled our national debt under George W. Bush ­— when you were working for him, I believe. Whenever we had a war in Iraq and Afghanistan under the Bush tax cuts we doubled our national debt under George W. Bush. We continued adding to it under the Obama years, but we had to continue and deal with the Iraq War and the Bush tax cuts that were never paid for.

S: Where we’re going to have to look at all of those tax cuts and a lot of our national debt, we have, to one, balance our budget, we have to cut spending where we can, we’re going to hope our economy continues to grow but we’re going to have to look at additional revenue sources to retire our national debt which is at $16 trillion. … At the appropriate time we have to look and analyze at every one of those Bush tax cuts and figure out one, how does it impact the economy? Number two, will it generate revenue we can dedicate to pay down our national debt.

C: I actually will commend Mr. Sadler — he’s running a campaign with a great deal of courage because he’s running an unapologetically liberal campaign. He’s running in support of raising taxes and he’s running in support of a host of liberal views, and I commend him for his candor in that. I don’t think those are the values of most Texans, so I’m curious, Mr. Sadler, which Texans would you raise taxes on and which would you not raise taxes on?

C: I do not believe we should raise taxes. I do not believe the problem is that Americans aren’t being taxed enough.

On foreign policy:
S: You don’t cut off foreign aid, particularly in a country where they’ve got a fledgling government being formed … it’s time for us to stop a hold on that aid because it’s in our best interest to stay involved. If we don’t stay involved in those governments then Russia and china and other countries in the world will be and so I don’t think you cut off the aid.

C: This is another area of clear disagreement. I don’t think we should be funding those who are behaving contrary to our interests. I think the only justification for continuing that aid or any portion of that aid is if it protects the vital national security interests of the United States so I think we should be using the aid as extensive leverage to protect our national security interests. I don’t think we should just be writing a blank check.

On Obama’s refusal to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu:

S: I think the president … you just slandered our president and you don’t even know what his schedule is.

On health care reform:

C: “I think Obamacare was rammed through in a brazen display of arrogance. It was clear that it was contrary to the strong views of the majority of the American people, and it is the only major piece of social legislation in modern times to have been passed on a strictly partisan vote only by Democrats.”

C: “I think health care reform should follow a couple principles. Number one: it should expand competition, expand the use of the marketplace. Number two: it should empower patients and consumers and disempower government bureaucrats.”

S: “You’re going to give all [Obamacare’s] benefits away so that you can make political points against the president, and that’s not good for Texas and it’s not good for the United States. Worse, it shows a real fundamental lack of understanding of the process.”

On illegal immigration:

S: “Our border is a great economic engine for our state. It is a great, diverse cultural region, and we simply cannot stick our head in the sand any longer. We need to secure our border — that’s our sovereign right, and we should do that, and we have the ability to do that.”

S: “We should have already passed the DREAM Act for these children in this state who through no fault of their own are here, but have no country. All they want is the American dream. Ted likes to talk about liberty, but he only wants liberty for people he agrees with.”

C: “Mr. Sadler supports amnesty for those here illegally; I do not.”

C: My approach to immigration is that it should be a staged approach. I think the first priority is we’ve got to get serious about securing our border and stopping illegal immigration. And sadly, I don’t think either party has been serious about immigration. I think we need to remain a nation that doesn’t just welcome, that celebrates, legal immigrants.”

On gun control:

S: “Do you even own a gun, Ted? Do you hunt?”

C: “I want to know, is it true or false that as a state legislator, you voted against our concealed carry law in the state of Texas?”

S: “I voted against the concealed weapons law because I didn’t want my 95-year-old step-grandmother, who carries a pistol, to be a felon.”

On their friendship:
C: “I’m sorry, Mr. Sadler, that you think I’m a troll.”


Students in organizations representing both sides of the aisle hope U.S. Senate candidates Ted Cruz and Paul Sadler will address the cost of higher education and health care reform during their first televised debate Tuesday night.

Republican Ted Cruz, former solicitor general of Texas and former UT law professor, is competing against Democrat Paul Sadler, a former state representative, for the seat occupied by Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, who is not seeking re-election.

Sadler served in the Texas Legislature from 1991 to 2003, including 10 years on the House Public Education Committee. He sponsored bills including the Ratliff-Sadler Act in 1995, a comprehensive education reform bill that removed the responsibility of appointing the commissioner of education from the State Board of Education and gave it to the governor, and established the State Board for Educator Certification, among other reforms. The bill was signed into law by then-Gov. George W. Bush. Cruz served as state solicitor general from 2003 to 2008 and argued nine cases before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Leslie Tisdale, president of University Democrats, said she hopes the candidates will focus on student loans and tuition rates.

The Department of Education released numbers Friday showing that 9.1 percent of the 4.1 million student loan borrowers who began repayments between Oct. 1, 2009, and Sept. 30, 2010 defaulted before Sept. 30, 2011. According to a Sept. 26 study conducted by the Pew Research Center, 19 percent of households owed student loan debt in 2010, averaging out at $26,682 per household. The Texas Tribune reported that the average cost of attendance at UT for fiscal year 2012-13 is $9,794.

Tisdale said she hopes the candidates will also discuss the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and that students will watch the debate.

“These are the issues we’re going to inherit, and that’s why it’s crucial to stay informed and participate in elections,” she said.

Tisdale said she believes Sadler is a more qualified candidate for the U.S. Senate seat than Cruz because Sadler has served in the state legislature and is more attuned to the legislative process.

Danny Zeng, communications director for College Republicans at Texas, said he also hopes the candidates will discuss the rising cost of attending college. Zeng said the increasing costs are dissuading potential students from attending college.

He said Sadler displayed bipartisanship during his time in the Texas Legislature, but voters may not be looking for those qualities in a candidate.

“We’re not looking for politics as usual,” he said. “We’re looking for someone to represent the views of the people of Texas.”

He said he hopes the candidates will also address the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and how to fund entitlement programs such as Medicare and Medicaid.

Assistant government professor Bethany Albertson said she has seen no evidence that political debates help voters decide which candidate to support, but evidence does show that voters are more informed after watching debates. She said voters often think the candidate they supported going into the debate won the debate. 

“Given that the average American doesn’t know much about politics, debates are a great opportunity for learning,” she said.

Calls and emails to both campaigns were not returned by press time.

The debate will air at 7 p.m. on TXCN and can be streamed at

The candidates have agreed to another televised debate in Dallas that will air at 7 p.m. Oct. 19 on KERA-TV.

Printed on Tuesday, October 2, 2012 as: Students anticipate Cruz, Sadler debates

Editor’s note: Paul Sadler is the Democratic candidate in the race to fill Kay Bailey Hutchison’s U.S. Senate seat. He faces Republican opponent Ted Cruz on Nov. 6. The upcoming deadline to register to vote is Oct. 9. Sadler spoke to Daily Texan associate editors Drew Finke and Pete Stroud about college students today, higher education in Texas and his chances in Nov. The interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.

Daily Texan: Why should UT students be invested in this election?
Paul Sadler:
Because the United States Senate is the highest legislative office in the country ... And this particular election is very important — everyone that runs for office will tell you this is the most important election of your life, so I think it’s a little trite — but I do think that at least as far back as I can remember, the choice or the difference between the division of the two parties is so dramatically different that it’s just crucial, particularly for young people, because it’s your future ... The students of the University of Texas at Austin and the other college students around the country are right on the edge of some of the most important decisions you’ll make in your lives, and the future of our country is critical as you begin those decisions. So you want to be part of it. You don’t want to be left out; you want to be part of that decision-making process. So I think it’s absolutely critical. I think it’s an important voice ... Honestly, if you look at major changes around the world, historically they come from the young people. It’s always the outh that lead the innovation ... So for a younger person to think that his or her vote doesn’t matter, that they shouldn’t be involved, is really just a tragedy.

DT: What advice would you give to college students, bearing in mind today’s economic climate?
I would say the same thing I tell my children: give yourself as many options in life as you can. Create a resume that allows you as many options as you go forward through the next ten, 20, 30, 40 years in life. The model of life whenever most of your parents graduated was that you graduated from high school or college and you went to work for a company and retired at age 65 and died at age 72 ... It’s not like that anymore. You may change careers multiple times in your lifetime. You may work for one company for 30 years and reach what was the old retirement age, then begin a whole new career. So I think it’s important from an educational standpoint and a personal standpoint to make yourself as well-rounded as you can, with as many options as you can.

DT: What did you get out of your college experience?
That’s a great question. Two things primarily from my experiences at Baylor: One is that Baylor [was] a smaller university, and particularly in the law school there was a very close sense of family. We started with 68 students in my law school class and we graduated 68 ... And so even though I might not have talked to many of my classmates for a long time, we are still very close. I run across some of them all across the state as I campaign. Number two: When I graduated from college I think we were on the crux of a real change in the way we learn ... We were moving from an age in which you had a set of books and you tried to learn what was in the books. Then you moved forward to what I view today as a world in which you have to learn how to reach a certain altitude of mind, because you have so much more available to you today, so much quicker than we did. And [our professors] were very good at teaching a thought process — an analytical process of how to ask the right questions that lead you to the right answers. Ultimately, when you get out of college, the real question is: have you developed a mind that has the ability to seek answers and know where to find them?

DT: What student-focused issues will you pursue if elected? In essence, why should we vote for you?
The DREAM Act. Although it doesn’t affect a large percentage of students, the DREAM Act is an issue that defines who we are as a people, who we are as a nation ... The very idea that we would have young people in this country without a country — they have no country to return to because they’ve lived ... almost all their lives in this country. They’re innocent [of] wrongdoing. They’re here because their parents brought them here. And all they seek is the American dream, and we as a country, so far in the last decade, have turned a deaf ear. And I think that’s a real travesty ... The answer of my opponent often is that they should go home, but this is home. And if you return them to the countries of their birth, many of them face criminal prosecution there, and they have no pathway to citizenship in this country. So they literally are children and young people without a country. And we’ve always stood for the promise of the future. And so for young people and students I think it should be our number one goal. It’s just a matter of doing what’s right.

DT: Texas hasn’t elected a Democrat to statewide office since 1994, and according to a poll released by your own campaign you’re 17 points behind Ted Cruz in the polls. What, realistically, do you hope to accomplish in this election?
Win. I realistically hope to win. I don’t think that Mr. Cruz represents the mainstream views of this state. I don’t think he represents even the mainstream view of the Republican Party. I think that when the people of Texas see those differences they will understand that and then vote for me, I hope. The fact of the matter, particularly in the light of Citizens United, is that we live in an age of politics where we’re seeing more and more the influence and control of a very small group of extraordinarily wealthy people that can influence elections. And it only stops when we, the people of Texas, individually stand up and make our own independent decisions and determine who we want to represent us. Mr. Cruz has had the support of a number of super PACs. The Club for Growth left the state after the July 31 primary and declared that they had elected the next United States Senator from Texas. And if that’s what the people of Texas want, and that’s what the young people of Texas want, they should go vote for him. But he does not owe his allegiance to the people of Texas; I do. I’m sixth-generation Texan. I was born and raised here, lived in every part of the state. I understand the state, I represented it: I co-authored the education code for our state, I put together the health insurance program for teaching professionals and public school employees, I passed the largest property tax cut in the history of our state. I’ve worked in wind energy and understand our electricity grid and our energy markets. I have five children who have been through college; I’ve got one who’s still a senior. I think it’s a matter of who best represents us in that process. I’m hopeful that through the debate process, and through interviews like this, that people will look take a look at my record, at who I am, and that they’ll decide to vote for me. I don’t owe an allegiance to anyone except the people of Texas. My average [campaign] contribution is $60. No super PACs. Don’t want one. I have no allegiance except to the people in this state. That’s the record I had in the legislature — and that’s the value of a legislative record. You can go look at my record: I was named among the “10 best” four out of six sessions. And you can determine what kind of legislator I am, and was and how I will be. When you look at Mr. Cruz, he has no legislative record, none. You’re rolling the dice — you don’t know what he’ll be. And that’s important because this is the highest legislative body in the country. This is not the place for a novice, or as I like to call it, a replacement official. Sometimes the game just moves too fast for ‘em.

DT: In your opinion what is the most important issue regarding higher education in Texas and nationwide?
Tuition. Without a doubt, tuition ... Let’s take Texas, for example: whenever the Legislature — and this is just a fact. It’s not partisan, it’s just factual — but when the Republican Party gained control of both the House and the Senate and all the statewide offices, and the first time they faced a budgeting issue what they did was that they released universities to set their own tuition rates. And it was, in my opinion, a major blunder. People within the administration at the University may not feel that way, but for parents across the state and students across the state one of the greatest assets we had as Texas citizens was a world-class university system that was affordable to almost all families. And as we’ve seen, once they released the universities to set their tuition rates, those tuition rates climbed dramatically, and it has, in my view, limited the accessibility of higher education ... So I think our [in]ability in the future to maintain college education that’s affordable and accessible to all of our students is the biggest threat to higher education.

In 2002, state Rep. Paul Sadler of Henderson was one of the most powerful Democrats in the Texas Legislature when he announced he was not running for re-election.

At the time, he was the chairman of the House Public Education Committee and a force that even the state’s governor had learned to be mindful of when it came to anything involving schools.

Ten years later, Sadler, 57, is the unequivocal underdog in his bid for U.S. Senate against Ted Cruz, a rising national star in the Republican Party.

While the U.S. Constitution does not require senators to have experience in elected office, Sadler has made it clear that Texans should demand nothing less from whomever they elect to replace Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, who is retiring.

Cruz, a lawyer, has never held elected office. For more than five years, he defended Texas in court as the state’s solicitor general. Before that, he was a domestic policy adviser to President George W. Bush. He has argued before the U.S. Supreme Court nine times. He pulled off a political upset in July by defeating Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst for his party’s Senate nomination. Last month, he was a featured speaker at the Republican National Convention.

Sadler, who fully expects Cruz and his supporters to outspend him, contends that Cruz’s views are too extreme for Texas. He said Texans usually laugh when he tells them that Cruz wants to eliminate several federal agencies including the Department of Education and the IRS.

“If we in Texas are laughing at the Republican nominee for United States Senate, what do you think the rest of the country is doing?” Sadler said. “We’ve had enough of politicians standing up on the national stage and everybody else laughing at us.”

Texas Democrats have not won a statewide race since 1994. Sadler is hoping to break the streak, though many pundits have written off Cruz’s victory in November as a foregone conclusion.

Come November, I hope Democrat Paul Sadler will be the new junior U.S. Senator of Texas. Sadler is a self-proclaimed Progressive with a proven track record behind his liberal Democrat label. But, despite my hopes, recent Texas electoral history and the state’s political climate suggest the November election will not send Sadler to Washington, D.C. So, Progressive Democrats should participate in tomorrow’s Republican Primary Runoff between former Texas Solicitor General Ted Cruz and Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst. For Progressive Democrats, David Dewhurst is the best option.

Dewhurst publicly affirmed his support for a guest-worker program in 2007. His more recent anti-immigrant rhetoric represents his response to Cruz attacking his conservative credentials – not a surprising shift for an office-seeking candidate. But if Dewhurst is elected to a six-year term and Democrats make significant electoral gains in the nation’s legislative body (likely with the President on the ballot), the Lieutenant Governor’s prior support for immigration reform might re-emerge. In addition, the six-year term will permit Dewhurst to work with President Barack Obama (presuming he wins a second term) on immigration reform, since Dewhurst wouldn’t face re-election until 2018.

Ted Cruz, on the other hand, has not exhibited progressive behavior at all. Cruz will undoubtedly be, as other Tea Party - affiliated candidates have been, loyal to a fault to radical Conservatives.

David F. Prindle, a UT government professor, agrees that Texas Progressives stand not only to have a significant impact in this Republican primary but in the general election as well. Prindle said, “The problem with Progressives is not that they do not exist in Texas. The problem is that they do not go to the polls on election day. Voter turnout in presidential years is about 55 percent in the state; in congressional years it is closer to 30 percent. If the Progressives would go to the polls and vote for Sadler in November, it would not matter which Republican had been nominated.”

But recent Texas electoral history indicates that after the November election, a Republican will likely occupy the seat left open by retiring Republican U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison. The outstanding question is whether it will be someone as radical as Cruz, whose Tea Party ties have been well-advertised by his campaign, or a somewhat reasonable moderate Republican who has only turned up the ridiculous Tea Party rhetoric due to being a candidate.

Paul Sadler will have my vote come November, but Dewhurst is my guy tomorrow. Conservatives will certainly come out in November, dousing any hope of a Sadler victory. However, Progressives can capitalize on an increasingly divided Republican primary-runoff and put Dewhurst, rather than Cruz, on the November ballot.

Enriquez is a government and history major from El Paso.

Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney speaks during a campaign event at the Somers Furniture warehouse in Las Vegas Tuesday.

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

After months of delay, the long-anticipated Texas primary election yielded few surprises for both Democratic and Republican candidates.

Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney took 69 percent of the Texas vote for the Republican presidential race, pushing him past the required 1,144 delegates required to be nominated at the August 27 Republican National Convention.

Despite being challenged by Tennessee lawyer John Wolfe, who received 42 percent of the Arkansas primary on May 22, Democratic incumbent President Barack Obama’s 88 percent Texas victory was expected well ahead of time, said Huey Fischer, government junior and University Democrats president.

“Obama is the Democratic party leader,” Fischer said. “Everybody has accepted that. What happened in Arkansas, whether they were just doing a protest vote or if they thought it would be funny, who knows. I honestly don’t believe a majority of that 42 percent actually believe John Wolfe would be a better president.”

Fischer said the real surprise to Democratic voters in Texas is the current runoff election between Grady Yarbrough and former Texas legislator Paul Sadler for the Democratic U.S. Senate seat. Runoff elections, which will take place July 31, occur when no single candidate receives the majority of a primary vote. Fischer said a runoff between Sadler and candidate Sean Hubbard had previously been expected.

“It certainly was a surprise to see Yarbrough come in second,” Fischer said. “It now seems like he concentrated his campaign in [East Texas] and while he was reaching the larger constituency, Hubbard was targeting established Democrats that had made up their minds about Sadler.”

Sadler’s previous experience in the Texas House of Representatives and his focus on educational reform make him a popular choice among established Democrats, said Texas Democratic Party spokesperson Rebecca Acuna.

“Paul Sadler did serve in the state House and he’s a renowned expert on education,” Acuna said. “I think he’s got a lot more experience and more name recognition.”

Fischer said a major concern to Democrats in Austin was the near loss of Congressman Lloyd Doggett due to redistricting. Austin currently resides in District 35, a newly created district that includes San Antonio.

“If we had lost Lloyd Doggett, we would have been the largest city in the United States without its own congressman,” Fischer said. “With the overwhelming support he got not only in Austin, but in Hays County and Bexar County, we showed that the entire Central Texas region wanted an experienced congressman who really supports education and its funding.”

The Republican Senate race ended with former Solicitor General Ted Cruz holding 34.2 percent of the vote and current Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst having 45 percent. The two candidates are also scheduled for a runoff in July. Republican Party of Texas spokesperson Chris Elam said each candidate’s extensive experience in Texas politics makes each a solid competitor for the position of senator.

“Their campaigns have been hard at work for the past several months, and in fact Cruz has been running for the past several years,” Elam said. “They are two established candidates who have been campaigning hard for a long time. To see them together in a runoff is not surprising.”

Krista Aguilar, human development junior and College Republicans of Texas executive vice president, said the runoff process shows a strong tendency in voters to think critically about each candidate.

“There are going to be many Republican runoffs in July,” Aguilar said. “I’m glad to see that we as Republicans are really voicing our opinions and not settling for just one candidate. We’re standing behind who we think is best qualified, especially for the position of senator.”

Aguilar said the next two months of campaigning will be among the most exciting to watch in the elections process as runoff candidates attempt to appeal further to voters.

“I think just for me, as a Republican, that this is a very exciting time being here in Austin,” Aguilar said. “I’m really anxious to see what happens in the upcoming months because I know the candidates are really going to hit the ground running.”