During debate, Texas Democratic U.S. Senate candidates differ on best way to oust Republican John Cornyn

Eleven of the 12 Democratic candidates for Texas' 2020 U.S. Senate race debated in Austin on Tuesday. Gabriel C. Pérez/KUT News/Pool

Texas Democrats took to a crowded Austin debate stage Tuesday night as they vie for the nomination to take on Republican U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, the three-term incumbent.

The Democratic candidates for U.S. Senate generally agreed in pushing the policies of President Barack Obama's administration further to the left. The contentions in the debate centered mostly around how far left each person was willing to go.

But the most contentious moment was about politics — specifically, the Senate Democratic campaign arm's endorsement of military veteran MJ Hegar, who narrowly lost a U.S. House race to Rep. John Carter, R-Round Rock, in 2018.

"Of all of the endorsements we've received, and of all the endorsements on everybody in this race, the [Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee] endorsement is the only one that only looks at viability," Hegar said. "All they care about is flipping the U.S. Senate and getting our government back up and running for working families again. So it was something we were very proud of, it was a nod to the grassroots campaign that we've built."

It was a thorny issue to several candidates, including Annie “Mamá” Garcia.

"I respect so much your resume and what you have accomplished, but the fact is that you did not beat John Carter, and we are not going to beat John Cornyn by playing politics as usual," said Garcia. "Money cannot be the determining factor in who wins this race.

Hegar's loss to Carter was a historically much narrower margin than Carter's previous cycles.