The front lawn of the Tomball Community Center was lined with campaign signs on July 14 as people came from all over the Houston area for a Republican candidate meet and greet leading into runoff elections.
Candidates in attendance included David Dewhurst and Ted Cruz, who are both running for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Kay Bailey Hutchison. Carl Pittman and Louis Guthrie—candidates for Harris County sheriff—also made appearances, as well as Christi Craddick for Texas railroad commissioner, Barry Smitherman for railroad commissioner (unexpired term), John Devine for Texas Supreme Court seat 4, Michael Landrum and Chris Gillett for 129th district judge, and Don Self and Janet Townsley for 152nd district judge. The event was organized by the Greater Tomball Pachyderm Club and the Tomball Republican Women's Club.
The event featured each candidate making a brief address to the audience. Cruz and Dewhurst were each asked three questions provided by the audience at the end of their speeches. Questions covered sanctuary cities, Secretary of State Hilary Clinton's Small Arms Treaty and how to balance the budget in the 2013 legislative session.
Cruz and Dewhurst made many similar points, both saying they were dedicated to repealing the Affordable Care Act and cutting back on government spending without raising taxes. Both expressed support for religious freedom and pro-life organizations and both pledged to beef up boarder patrol.
"I believe we need to give our police officers the opportunity to lawfully stop and inquire about immigration status," Dewhurst said.
Cruz pointed out that he has been outspent five to one through the campaign, but said his willingness to fight for conservative ideals has garnered him the support to compete.
"There are too many politicians in Washington who put their finger in the air to see which way the wind is blowing," Cruz said. "There has been a great awakening among the American citizens and what they are saying is that they want someone who will actually defend the Constitution."
Following the speeches, candidates openly interacted with voters. Roughly 350 people came out to the event, according to Barbara Tague, president of the Tomball Republican Women's Club.
"I was amazed at the outpouring of people who came," she said. "The candidates were impressed too. They know that the people of Tomball care about who is representing them."
Attendees were given the chance to interact with candidates as well as hear them speak in person.
"The question and answer session helped solidify my feelings about some of the candidates and gave me some new things to think about for some of the others," said attendee Tom Buchner.
Runoff elections will be held July 31.