AUSTIN — U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke will participate in a live, one-hour town hall event with CNN in McAllen on Oct. 18 as part of the network's effort to highlight three contested races across the country.
Candidates in the other two races, both of which are in Florida, will participate in televised debates moderated by CNN anchors. O'Rourke will appear alone at the South Texas event, since his opponent declined the network's invitation.
"GOP Sen. Ted Cruz's campaign initially accepted CNN's invitation to participate but later declined," according to CNN.
Cruz and O'Rourke are locked in a heated race for Cruz's Senate seat, one that has captivated national audiences and energized Democrats in a state that is seen as a conservative stronghold.
Texas voters watched Cruz and O'Rourke debate for the first time in Dallas in September, where tensions flared onstage as both candidates went on the offensive.
They were scheduled to meet in Houston on Sunday for the second of three debates, but the event was postponed due to the U.S. Senate vote on Justice Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation to the Supreme Court.
Cruz and O'Rourke are scheduled to meet for their final debate on Oct. 16 in San Antonio.
Jeff Roe, Cruz's campaign manager, said the Cruz campaign initially proposed that CNN host one of the three debates agreed upon by the candidates but, "The O'Rourke campaign declined."
He said CNN "subsequently offered back to back town halls, in which we are unable to participate" in a post on Twitter.
Officials with Cruz and O'Rourke's campaigns spent months haggling over the debate specifics before agreeing to three, each with a different format. The Dallas event had more than 240 people in attendance and was at Southern Methodist University.
The second debate, which was postponed, was scheduled to be a town hall event where attendees could submit questions ahead of time to be answered by the candidates.
The final debate, scheduled for next week, will have a smaller audience and be taped at a television studio in San Antonio.