BREAKING: Cruz, O’Rourke on-campus debate venue announced
Updated at 6:24 p.m. to include a quote from the UH vice president for governmental Relations.
The second debate between Texas Senate candidates Sen. Ted Cruz and Rep. Beto O’Rourke will take place at 6 p.m. on Sept. 30 in the Student Center Theatre, according to the University’s webpage for the event.
According to the website, the University is working to provide students and other members of the UH community with ways to participate in the event, but UH does not have tickets available for members of the general public.
“The University of Houston is pleased to have been chosen as the host for this important debate,” said Jason Smith, UH vice president for governmental relations. “We has been fortunate to host a number of high-profile, nationally relevant events in recent years. This debate will be another chance for Houston to witness an important part of the democratic process.”
ABC13 and Univision43 will broadcast the debate to ABC affiliates throughout Texas. There will be an online stream for national audiences, according to the website.
The debate will see both candidates returning to the University once again, Sen. Cruz having participated in the Republican primary debate that was held on campus in 2015 and Rep. O’Rourke following up his April speaking appearance.
“Hosting such an important public discussion about our state and country’s future — one that impacts our community locally, nationally and abroad — is precisely in line with our steadfast commitment to leadership and our ongoing academic pursuit of scientific, political and social discourse,” the announcement reads.
Communications professor Joe Cutbirth said that while polls place the two candidates almost neck and neck, Sen. Cruz’s experience as a prosecutor and former presidential candidate make him a strong debate opponent. However, the event will undoubtedly be a boost for Rep. O’Rourke’s credibility as a candidate.
“The benefit for Beto is that he gets to stand on the stage beside a senator and look like he could be a senator too,” Cutbirth said. “Standing on the stage puts him in that league”
The town hall will be another notch on the University of Houston’s belt when it comes to hosting high profile political events and speakers, and while it’s to be seen how the debate or midterm elections will play out, students for Beto ambassador and Director of Field Operations for UH Democrats Jonah Baumgarten said that a win for Beto may mean more large political events for the city of Houston and UH in the future.
“I know the DNC is considering Houston for the 2020 national conference leading up to the election and we’re certain that if Beto wins it will give Houston an edge over other cities that are vying for that spot,” Baumgarten said. “That would be such a boost for our collegiate community and I’m sure the University of Houston would be involved.”
The two candidates will meet Friday in Dallas for the first of the three scheduled debates. According to coverage by the Houston Chronicle, the debate can be seen via livestream on dallasnews.com and NBCDFW.com.