While there has been little reliable independent polling in the Senate race in Texas, Thursday's debate offered a glimpse into the hierarchy of the contest for the Republican nomination.
Each candidate revealed his own standing in the race through the object of his attacks:
-- Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst showed off his frontrunner status by largely ignoring the other candidates and saving his criticism for President Obama and the federal government.
-- Former Texas Solicitor General Ted Cruz, who hopes to join Dewhurst in a runoff, focused all his energy on the lieutenant governor, charging that his campaign has been lying about Cruz in its attack ads. He also challenged Dewhurst's conservative credentials.
-- Former Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert, who most observers believe is running third, went after both Dewhurst and Cruz, referring to his opponents as a "professional politician" and "someone that's never led anything," respecitvely.
-- As for former ESPN analyst Craig James, the Dallas Morning News reported that he "logged another folksy performance, with quips about endangered lizards..."