Words by Alyssa Stevenson/Images by Will Milne

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Last night we hosted the only open-to-the-public debate between the Republican primary candidates going after Myra Crownover's HD64 seat. So let's recap the whole thing and take another look at our candidates before casting our votes in the primaries (which start today). Read on to see how each of them handled the issues - because one of these three men is likely to be your next state representative.

To start with, let’s go over a few fast facts:

Up for grabs is the seat for Texas House of Representatives in District 64. The current representative for District 64 is Myra Crownover, who has been in office since 2000. Representative Crownover is not running for re-election this year, leaving the seat open.

Right now we’re in the midst of the primaries, so we’re picking who will make the ballot for the November general election. There are three Republican candidates and two Democrats making a pass at the ballot.

In the 2014 general election Myra Crownover won District 64 with a landslide 63% of the vote. Of the 158 precincts recorded in Denton County, 72% voted straight party Republican in 2014.

Okay, now that we've got that down, let’s take a closer look at the three candidates that went toe to toe last night.

Read King believes in freedom and liberty, which he repeated multiple times last night. Mr. King believes that true capitalism in America is dead, and that our laws are being passed in order to support corporate companies. He supports local control unless our rights are being infringed on, is apprehensive to allow local municipalities to infringe on the liberties, and freedoms of small businesses. For example, Mr. King stated that he considers banning plastic bags government overreach.

When it comes to education, the former public educator who now homeschools his six children pulls out his party trick, quoting verbatim Article 7, Sec. 1 of the Texas Constitution.

    “Sec. 1.  SUPPORT AND MAINTENANCE OF SYSTEM OF PUBLIC FREE SCHOOLS.  A general diffusion of knowledge being essential to the preservation of the liberties and rights of the people, it shall be the duty of the Legislature of the State to establish and make suitable provision for the support and maintenance of an efficient system of public free schools.”

All of this to say, that he believes our system of public education is not working efficiently. Like the other two candidates, he is not in favor of House Bill 4, which would provide grants for quality pre-K education across the state.

On women’s health, he believes we need new leadership in Austin, and that this is a liberty issue. When asked about sanctuary cities he stated that we just don’t know which cities are sanctuary cities. However, he does believe that in order to fix immigration we need to get rid of the property tax and instead move to a consumer tax. On the issue of campus carry, he stated that alcohol, young people, and guns aren’t a good combo - but then stated that protection and liberty are also important.

When asked which presidential campaign sign he would put in his lawn, he stated that he was unable to throw his support behind any of the current GOP candidates. 

 Debater moderator Kevin Roden following along with the debate on Twitter. 

Debater moderator Kevin Roden following along with the debate on Twitter. 

Rick Hagen certainly made a splash by coming out of the gate with a pretty bold statement; that the younger generation is a generation of entitlement, with hard working couples being the exception instead of the rule. A younger audience member cried out, “because we can’t find jobs,” which I totally sympathize with as someone who worked in service industry positions and other fields while trying to get my foot in the door. But, what about those of us with jobs? This generalized statement read to us as offensive to the younger generation and us hardworking individuals in particular. Many younger folks living in Denton work full time to support themselves and their families, while also pursuing other things on the side in order to supplement their stretched incomes or to break into a new field they have more passion for.

Hagen was the candidate most likely to answer a question clearly. Hagen believes we need to allow educators to do their jobs, and lessen the strain from state and federal regulations. He praised superintendents and educators for doing a great job with what they’ve been allowed to do. He believes we need to put immigrants in a position to pay taxes, continue increasing funding towards women’s health services (just not towards Planned Parenthood), give local control when it doesn’t interfere with state and federal law, and that we need to advocate for smaller government.

Hagen’s other moment that elicited a big response from the crowd was when he lauded campus carry as a weapon against future violence. He then stated that Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton are a threat to the 2nd Amendment. With a room full of republicans, this gained a hearty round of applause.

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Dr. Lynn Stucky, like the other candidates, is in favor of public education, but stated that we need to reallocate funds from Medicaid in order to boost public education. Dr. Stucky alleged that our state suffers from $20 million in Medicaid fraud annually, so we should take that money and put it in the education fund. A possibly perplexing issue was his view on HB40. Dr. Stucky expressed that we should fix the issue of HB40 while the price of oil is low.

When asked about matters of immigration, Dr. Stucky asserted that we are draining our state resources by allowing immigrants to freely use our public education and healthcare. He believes that if we remove these "perks," close the borders, and create a better vetting process for legal immigration the hardships associated with illegal immigration will simply disappear.

He, like other candidates, believed very strongly that abortion (and clinics that offer abortions) should not be funded by the state, and that campus carry is not an issue as it is an additional way to defend yourself.

Both Hagen and Stuckey supported Ted Cruz for President. 

Check out a few tweets from people watching last night's debate and using the hashtag #HD64Debate below: