AUSTIN (CBSDFW.COM) – It’s a question more are asking in the Republican primary for Texas’ U.S. Senate seat –  Where is Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst — and why isn’t he showing up at candidate forums and debates?

At a candidate forum sponsored by the Republican Club at Heritage Ranch in Fairview Monday,  Dewhurst didn’t attend.  The three other major candidates, former Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert, former Texas Solicitor General Ted Cruz, and former ESPN analyst Craig James did take part.  They each criticized Dewhurst for not showing up.

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Most analysts agree Dewhurst is playing it safe by not showing up at these forums.  He’s leading in the polls and has very high name recognition throughout the state.  So most analysts say they’re not surprised Dewhurst has agreed to just one televised debate so far – on a Friday night, April 6.

The prevailing view is that if the Lieutenant Governor attends all of the debates, he would put himself at risk for making a gaffe or mistake, face heavy criticism from his opponents, and legitimize his opponents.

As for Dewhurst’s campaign, spokesman Matt Hirsch says the Lieutenant Governor couldn’t take part in the forum due to previously scheduled commitments.

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Hirsch says Dewhurst will attend the televised debate on April 6, and “are in discussions with several other groups in regards to participating in other debates and forums in April & May.”

Hirsch says “Dewhurst is focused on running his own campaign and will continue to travel across Texas.”

Most analysts believe during the May 29 Texas primary, Dewhurst will come in first place, but will likely still have to compete in a runoff election.

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Analysts believe while Dewhurst may be able to limit his participation in forums and debates before the primary, they say he won’t be able to do the same if he’s in a runoff.