DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Senator Ted Cruz and Congressman Beto O’Rourke will participate in three mutually agreed upon debates leading up to the 2018 U.S. Senate election in Texas, the O’Rourke campaign confirmed on Friday.

The debates will happen in Dallas on September 21, Houston on September 30 and San Antonio on October 16.

The topics will be domestic policy and foreign policy.

Each will be one hour in length and will be conducted in the formats outlined below:


Date: Friday, Sept. 21
City: Dallas
Location: Southern Methodist University
Topic: Domestic policy
Format: Podiums, moderated with a 240 person audience


Date: Sunday, Sept. 30
City: Houston
Location: University of Houston
Topic: Domestic policy
Format: Stools, town hall style with a 250+ person audience


Date: Tuesday, Oct. 16
City: San Antonio
Location: Studio
Topic: Half domestic policy, half foreign policy
Format: Podiums, moderated with a 120 person audience

In the latest CBS11/Dixie Strategies poll, likely voters in Texas were asked who they would vote for if the election for U.S. Senate were held today. While Cruz is ahead in the poll with only four points separating him from O’Rourke, the result is a statistical tie – within the margin of error of 4.3%. Of all likely voters in Texas surveyed, 46% of respondents said they would vote for Ted Cruz while 42% said they would vote for O’Rourke.

O’Rourke is hosting a town hall in South Dallas Friday evening.

A crowd of about 1,700 people is expected at the Good Street Baptist Church at 6:00 p.m.

SMU political science professor Cal Jillson says Rep. O’Rourke must jump ahead in the polls by the beginning of October to have a legitimate shot at winning.

Beto O’Rourke has run a great race.  He’s within striking distance,” said Jillson.  “But he’s got to get ahead of Cruz by three or four or five points before he is safe on Election Day.”

Texas hasn’t elected a Democrat to statewide office since 1994