The Democratic candidates in the runoff for US Senate talked about health care, border security, gay marriage and marijuana in their first televised debate hosted by KERA. BJ Austin reports.
Former state lawmaker Paul Sadler of East Texas and retired teacher Grady Yarbrough from San Antonio also talked about their records. Yarbrough says he’s an outsider with new ideas and a deep Texas connection.
“Not only am I a candidate for United States Senate, I am the great grandson of a slave. May great grandmother was a slave, a field hand.
Sadler, who headed the state legislature’s public education committee, points to his record.
“It’s a record of taking our most difficult issues in our state and doing what we think is best to solve those problems.”
The two had similar positions on a number of issues. Both support the federal healthcare law; favor marriage equality, or gay marriage; would not intervene militarily in Syria; and agree the Fast & Furious gun-running operation that’s created a scandal for the Attorney General and White House was a boneheaded idea.
But, they split over decriminalizing marijuana, which is in the state Democratic Party platform. Yarbrough says yes.
“In many cases, it’s used for medical purposes. Those who require marijuana for medical purposes certainly should not be put into a criminal category.”
You’ll find more information and the Republican debate video at Texasdebates.org
Sadler doesn’t think the public is ready for decriminalization.
“As a practical matter, it’s being done. But it’s being done through prosecutorial discretion and decisions made locally within cities and counties whether or not they want to prosecute someone for mere possession rather than intent to sell.”
Yarbrough would be open to raising the age for social security from 65. Sadler would not. Both agreed the border needs to be secured, but disagreed on how.
Sadler questioned Yarbrough’s qualifications to be a US Senator.
“The truth of the matter is until you have wrestled with the problems in government and understand the consequences of the decisions you make, I don’t think you’re prepared to do it.”
Yarbrough countered that sometimes experience doesn’t make the best decisions.
“If you will remember, it was an experienced president and an experience congress that brought us to the brink of financial disaster about four years ago.”
Sadler was the frontrunner in the primary. Yarbrough says his campaign is modest but building momentum.
Watch The Texas Debates: Race for U.S. Senate, Democrats on PBS. See more from KERA Specials.