A debate in San Antonio brought out a rare moment of confrontation between Jay Hulings and Gina Ortiz Jones, the two candidates seen as front-runners in the five-person Democratic primary for Texas’ 23rd Congressional District, as they clashed on campaign contributions and the issue of military base closures.

Near the end of the debate, Hulings brought up Jones’ support for another round of Base Closure and Realignment, commonly referred to as BRAC, a process of reorganizing the Pentagon’s base structure that requires congressional authorization. The topic holds relevance in San Antonio, a city that has historically revolved around its military bases and is home to many aerospace jobs.

On Tuesday, Hulings recalled the 2001 closure of San Antonio’s Kelly AFB, saying another round of BRAC would “almost certainly” lead to base closures in San Antonio, singling out Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland as particularly at risk. He said afterward that base closures represent a “drop in the bucket” among the overall defense budget and that removing politics from the decision-making process is impossible.

“Gina Jones has come out in favor of a third round of BRAC. Why? Because she hasn’t been here,” Hulings said. “She’s been in the Pentagon for the last 10 years, and so she’s still thinking like a Pentagon bureaucrat.”

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