The swirling force of Texas politics

Cruz, Dewhurst Debate Friday

U.S. Senate debate could shape campaign's final days

By Will Weissert
|  Friday, Jun 22, 2012  |  Updated 8:35 AM CDT
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Cruz, Dewhurst Debate Friday

NBC 5

Republican U.S. Senate candidates Ted Cruz, left, and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst face off in a primary runoff on July 31.

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Bitter rivals for Texas' Republican U.S. Senate nomination square off Friday in a debate that could shape their runoff election's final 40 days. 

Tea party favorite and former state solicitor general Ted Cruz is a fiery orator and onetime debating champion. Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst is the establishment GOP favorite but grew up with a stammer and fears about public speaking.

Friday will be the first of two debates planned before the July 31 runoff -- but more may be coming if both sides agree.

Dewhurst won last month's primary by 10 points but didn't capture an outright majority in a nine-candidate field. His race with Cruz mirrors other campaigns across the country that pit a veteran Republican against a little-known challenger, with both slides claiming to represent conservative values.

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