A race that is gaining national attention made its way to Stephenville Monday. The Erath County Republican Party hosted a candidate forum, inviting each of the candidates vying for the Texas seat on the United States Senate to address a lunchtime crowd.
Four of the nine candidates - Glenn Addison of Magnolia, Tom Leppert of Dallas, Lela Pittenger of Driftwood and Ted Cruz of Houston - accepted the invitation as did a crowd of area voters.
Addison said he is a "small business, grassroots candidate" who has already pledged to serve only one six-year term. He said his aim is to restore citizen legislature, the United States Constitution and national sovereignty.
Addison said the biggest issue with the federal government is the fact that it has violated limitations outlined in the Constitution. He said agencies such as the departments of agriculture and education should be eliminated and called the Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service "job killers" that are more concerned about lizards than livelihood.
"Let us Texans handle our own species," Addison said. "We are the people of the United States, not the world, and we need to protect the United States."
Leppert, a former mayor of Dallas, said the Constitution is a rule book "as critical today as it was 200 years ago."
He said president Obama has turned his back on its fundamental principles and called Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst a career politician.
"If we elect the same people with the same approach, we will not produce different results," Leppert said.
He said agencies such as the departments of energy and education should be eliminated as should funding for Planned Parenthood and entitlement programs.
Pittenger introduced herself by saying that in the past 28 months she has attended 440 events and had a baby along the way on just $30,000.
"I would like to see our government run that way," she said, adding the government continues to be run by men who think they are "as wise as God."
Pittenger spoke to "untangling alliances" and disconnecting from the UN, and said government needs to get out of the business of trying to govern decisions that should be left to the individual. She said issues of when life begins and ends should be between "you and your maker."
She said the education department, the only lender of student loans, should be abolished because the nation is currently home to more student loan debt than credit card debt.
In his introduction, Cruz said we are currently living in a nation of crisis led by the most radical president in history, but acknowledged the out of control bi-partisan spending predated the current administration.
Cruz, former solicitor general of Texas, encouraged the crowd to "say no to moderate establishment candidates"
and spoke to his recent endorsement from Sarah Palin.
A poll released Monday by University of Texas and The Texas Tribune shows the May 29 primary could be headed for a July 31 runoff.
The poll shows Dewhurst leading the race with 40 percent of likely voters, followed by Cruz with 31 percent and Leppert with 17 percent. Pittenger and Addison reportedly have three and four percent support. Two percent of voters said they do not yet know who they will support.
Incumbent Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison is retiring and not seeking a fourth term.