DALLAS, Texas -- After an intense Republican primary that stretched over several months, Tuesday evening was the first time a Republican and Democratic nominee for Texas' open seat in the U.S. Senate sat down for a head-to-head debate.
Those hoping for fireworks at the Belo Debate hosted by WFAA in Dallas were quickly rewarded with a back-and-forth exchange over accusations by Democrat Paul Sadler that Republican Ted Cruz has been ducking debate appearances, after accusing GOP primary opponent David Dewhurst of the same thing.
"You had 38 media events in the Republican primary, what's wrong with six for the general election?" asked Sadler.
"We have agreed to this one," responded Cruz, who added after being further pushed by Sadler to commit to six debates, "I understand that you are working very hard to get free media coverage."
The tone would grow increasingly heated, with WFAA reporter and debate co-moderator Brad Watson attempting multiple times to restore order between the two candidates.
The pair expressed very different views on spending and the Bush-era tax cuts.
The debate format allowed the candidates to ask questions of one another, and both took the opportunity to do so.
"Which Texans would you raise taxes on and which Texans would you not raise taxes on?" Cruz asked after Sadler acknowledged he would support allowing at least some of the Bush tax cuts to expire.
"Would you consider it 'liberal' to say that we have to pay down the national debt?" Sadler said.
The two also sparred over the Affordable Care Act passed under President Barack Obama and referred to by some as "Obamacare," a law Sadler supports and Cruz would repeal.
"Don't give away our benefits just so you can make a political point," Sadler said. "Everything government is giving us, it must first take from us," Cruz said.
The night ended in a wild exchange in which Sadler accused Cruz of legislative inexperience and misrepresenting Sadler's political record.
Sadler told Cruz he didn't make decisions based on the fear of "some troll" running against him years later.
"I'm sorry Mr. Sadler you believe I'm a troll," Cruz said.
"I think you lie, Ted," Sadler responded.
It was an end that will no doubt provide both sides with plenty of talk about before their next encounter.