David Dewhurst has declined to participate in such debates, says Bee County Republican chair Mike Keeney, one of the organizers of the event.
Another missing candidate is Tom Leppert of Dallas, who also has decided not to participate.
The debate, sponsored by the Bee County Republican Party and the Republican Club of Bee County, begins at 7:30 p.m. and is expected to last until 9:30.
Candidates Ted Cruz and Glenn Addison of Houston, Elizabeth Jones of Austin, Andrew Castanuela of Brownsville and Lela Pittenger of Dripping Springs are running to fill the seat vacated by Kay Bailey Hutchison, who is retiring.
Two Democrats also are running, Ricardo Sanchez from San Antonio and Sean Hubbard from Dallas. They were not invited because the local debate is a Republican-only event.
The debate is preceded by a $50 prime rib dinner at 6:30 p.m.
Co-anchor Rudy Trevino of television station KIII in Corpus Christi will moderate.
“We wanted to do something that has never before been done in Beeville,” Keeney said.
In addition to regular seating, eight “gold” tables, which seat eight and cost $100, are dedicated to different professions: attorneys, ranchers, medical professionals and small businessmen. Those who paid for gold table seating also may be called upon to submit written questions for the candidates to answer.
During the dinner, the candidates will sit at $2,000 platinum tables.
Kenney says that while 54 percent of people in Bee County voted Republican in the last presidential election, members of all parties are invited to attend.
“This is for the whole community. There are some major decisions that are going to have to be made after the election,” Keeney said. “Both sides need to be at the debate because it’s more than likely the next Texas senator is going to be there in that room.”
As of Monday morning, Keeney says, the sponsors have sold more than 135 tickets. “I expect the dinner to be a sell-out event.” Ticket information is available at 358-1550.
Bill Clough is a reporter at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 122, or at beepic@mySouTex.com.