Did U.S. Senate candidate Ted Cruz try to "rig" the next Texas Republican primary debate? That's what opponent Craig James is claiming.

Here's what happened: James received a text message on his personal phone from Cruz ahead of a televised debate scheduled for April 13. In the message, Cruz asks James to consider bringing up the absence of lieutenant governor David Dewhurst, a fellow Republican Senate candidate, from past debates.

"Craig--hope you're well. See you Friday. For what it's worth, since you're asking me a Q, it might be worth asking me something about Dew skipping 31 debates (or something else related to his record). Just an idea... Ted," the message read.

James released the text message and a message blasting Cruz. “Today I was put in an awkward position by Ted Cruz, a man I’ve come to know and respect. Ted sent me a text suggesting I ask him a set-up question for Friday’s United States Senate debate. In my mind, this is nothing more than an attempt to rig the system," James said in an emailed statement.

Cruz spokesman James Bernsen confirmed that Cruz sent the text message but brushed it off. "Newsflash! Ted has consistently and publically [sic] denounced David Dewhurst’s record of ducking 30 plus debates across Texas and the suggestion by Ted that another candidate join in shining light on Dewhurst’s record of hiding from Texas voters should come as no surprise to anyone," Bernsen writes in an email.

A recent poll of the GOP primary showed Dewhurst leading Cruz, James, and former Dallas mayor Tom Leppert with 38 percent. Cruz trails Dewhurst by 11 points at 27 percent, while James and Leppert each receive single-digit support. The Texas primary is on May 29.

Next Page