On Wednesday, six Democratic candidates vying to replace Sen. John Cornyn will meet in Houston to participate in the Signal’s Senate forum.
The candidates include Air Force pilot MJ Hegar, state senator Royce West, civil rights leader Cristina Tzintzun Ramirez, Houston city council member Amanda Edwards, former congressman Chris Bell, and activist Sema Hernandez.
For those just tuning in, here’s a flavor of the race as it stands now.
Who’s up, who’s down (No one and everyone)
66% of potential Democratic voters say they don’t know or don’t have an opinion about who in the primary would get their vote, according to a Texas Tribune/UT poll released last month. That means the race is wide open.
In a state with the highest uninsured rate in the country, it’s no surprise that healthcare is a top issue for candidates in the Senate race.
Of the six candidates attending Wednesday’s forum, half support Medicare for All, a plan to expand Medicare to all Americans by replacing private insurers with a single-payer healthcare system. Tzintzún Ramirez, Hernandez, and Bell have promised to support the plan if elected to office.
Other candidates have voiced their support for improving the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare. “Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater,” Dallas area state Sen. Royce West has often said on the campaign trail. Like West, Edwards and Hegar have promised to improve the Affordable Care Act, including but not limited to adding a public option to the ACA for Americans to freely sign up.
Every candidate in the race has endorsed universal background checks for all gun buyers. It’s something polls have shown more than 90 percent of Texans support and a policy John Cornyn is strictly opposed to.
Some candidates have also stated their support for an assault weapons ban. Similarly, Edwards has said Congress should focus on low-hanging fruit like background checks and red flag laws first, but said she was also open to exploring the idea of an assault weapons ban.
All of the Democratic Senate candidates have gone on record supporting the congressional impeachment inquiry into Donald Trump’s dealings with Ukraine. Some candidates have argued that there’s already enough evidence to impeach the president.
So far, no public, state-specific poll has been conducted concerning what Texas voters think about impeachment, but a majority — anywhere between 51-58% of Americans —want Trump removed from office.
Cornyn’s war chest
No doubt looming over the Democratic Senate primary is the harsh reality of Cornyn’s war chest. The latest finance reports show the incumbent Senator raised $3.2 million in the third quarter, making his total amount of cash on hand almost $10.8 million.
After Cornyn, Hegar came in second with $1 million raised within the same period, followed by Edwards ($557,000), West ($550,000) and Ramirez ($459,000).
And while we’re on the subject of money, it’s worth noting where Cornyn has gotten his. Of the cash he’s raised this cycle, $1.1 million has come from Wall Street-style securities & investment industries, $760,000 from oil & gas, and $250,000 from pharmaceuticals– the latter of which, Cornyn has been paying back in full quite generously.
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