West Texas politicians put on "The Hot Seat"

Reported by: Ashley Claster
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Updated: 10/23/2013 11:02 pm
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State Senator Robert Duncan, along with State Representatives John Frullo and Drew Springer were put in the hot seat Wednesday.
Evan Smith of the Texas Tribune was in town to put the three Republicans under the spotlight.

"I think it was great," Smith said. "These are three very dedicated public servants. Not everybody in the world agrees on every issue. There are people in the audience who don't necessarily agree with these three."

The Texas Tribune's Evan Smith moderated the conversation among the men. Representative Charles Perry was supposed to be one of the three on the panel, but could not make it to the Hot Seat due to business in Austin. So, Representative Drew Springer took his place.

"You're not going to convince the other side to change their mind, Senator Robert Duncan said. "It's just basically a back and forth justifying why you did what you did, or voted the way you did against their position that is in opposition to what you did."

Smith let audience members ask questions of their own.

"I think the water issue was most important given the magnitude of the crisis and the fact that the ballot initiative is coming up in a couple of weeks. There's no guarantee that it's going to pass. In a low turn out state, in a low turn out election, anything could happen," Smith said.

Among the more controversial topics was the abortion issue.

"It's an emotional issue for people on both sides of the issue, not just on one side," Senator Duncan said. "There is some very compelling testimony in support of the legislation that we passed this last Summer."

"I think what we saw today illustrates how difficult a problem it is," Smith said. "Abortion blew up what was otherwise a very calm and productive legislative session. I think as a result of the abortion fight at the legislature this summer, the politics of this state are as polarized and as toxic as I've ever seen them."

The panel worked through all of the issues, and Smith kept them on track no matter how contentious the debate was.

"Bottom line is, it's emotional," Duncan said. "It's just part of this job that you deal with. You take your position, you lay it out and people can agree with it or not. That's what we saw today. It was not a disagreeable discussion."

"I thought it was civil," Smith said. "I thought we covered a lot of ground. I think for anybody who was here, you walked away knowing a lot more about what's going on in the legislature than you did before you came in."

On "The Hot Seat", the three Republicans showed the Austin reporter that they knew how to handle the heat.
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