The following column was written by Neal Dikeman, the Libertarian candidate for Texas' U.S. Senate seat. Dikeman sent this letter to the campaign of Democrat Beto O'Rourke regarding possible debates ahead of the November election.
Dear Congressman O'Rourke,
I am the Libertarian Party of Texas Nominee for United States Senate, and along with yourself and Senator Cruz, will be the only candidates on the ballot in November.
Without open thoughtful debate our politics devolves into the divisive sound bites and social media that we have seen in the last few years. We have been quietly building relationships at local and county level, have hundreds of volunteers statewide active in our campaign, and expect to win regions of Texas that have never been won by a Libertarian. We expect our Libertarian minded voters in Central, West Texas, and the Rio Grande Valley will be the swing voters that decide a historically close race in November. Senator Cruz has consistently refused to commit to debating you in public and I consider that to be a dereliction of responsibility from a sitting Senator who could find the time for a basketball grudge match against a TV celebrity.
This is an election marked by controversy in issues ranging from foreign policy, to healthcare, to privacy, to budget, to immigration, to the economy and trade. Major and serious issues that deserve considered and well debated response. Like yourself, I came from the private sector, founded tech companies, and am in my 40s with young kids. My family has lived in Texas for 6 generations, and we will be here in another 6 to come. We take the long view and I know Texas and Texans very well.
Politics should not be about money, or incumbency, or media coverage, or even frankly party. It should be about issues, policies, leadership, and vision. And above all, the voters and the future. You have been bringing a tremendous amount of positive energy to Texas politics, and I appreciate this, even though I fundamentally disagree on the policy solutions you propose. The data is clear, Texans are ready to hear a new message, and a vision for the future. I have visited, spoken to and met with voters from over 100 counties and understand what our citizens are looking for. I believe our debate would allow each of us to present a very different vision to our voters of what message and actions a Texas Senator should carry to Washington, and help them make a considered choice in November. No Democrat or Libertarian has won statewide since you and I were in High School. It is time to change that. If Senator Cruz is not willing to engage in a serious conversation in public on issues, then he may stay home and take his chances that Texas is not ready for change and a new vision. In which case I will take the votes he thinks are his.
I am ready to debate you in a formal setting or town hall. Most Texans do not realize that debates are not independently organized and always open to all the candidates on their ballot. And while we believe that a debate with all of the candidates on the ballot is the most fair for Texans, I am prepared to debate you with, and without, Senator Cruz. We are willing to accept one of these debates half in English, and half in Spanish, and will work with you on dates and details, though frankly, the sooner the better.
We have proposed to your campaign to debate twice in September and October. We propose once alone, and once together with Senator Cruz if he chooses to accept. We propose at either University of Texas, Texas A&M University, or Sul Ross State University, and have been in discussion with each. We propose that Ross Ramsey, the Managing Editor of non-profit Texas Tribune and one of the most knowledgeable analysts on Texas politics, serve as moderator, and in light of that proposal have forwarded this open letter to the Tribune with a request for publication.
You may reach me personally by Twitter or LinkedIn.
Neal M. Dikeman
Libertarian Party Nominee for United States Senator from Texas