During a recent presentation at the University of Texas at Arlington, ABC News commentator Cokie Roberts, who's covered national politics for more than 30 years, praised U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, a Texas Republican, for being effective at her job and working with Democrats to get things done.With Hutchison leaving office at the end of the year, Texas voters should be looking for another problem-solver who understands the state's needs and can meet those needs in a capital too often choked by divisiveness.Democrat Paul Sadler, 57, has experience that informs his sense of what will benefit Texas and a demonstrated work-across-the-aisle ability essential for a U.S. senator in a deadlocked Congress.The post-election Senate is almost certain to look much like the one that's been there the past two years: narrowly split between Democrats and Republicans, with Democrats holding a slight edge. Republicans are expected to continue dominating the House.Ted Cruz, 41, Sadler's Republican opponent, won his party's nomination with strident Tea Party rhetoric that will make him oil-on-water in that Senate mix. He now says he wants to bring people together, but it sounds as though he's after allies who see things his way. That approach is not a formula to get Washington moving again.Texas hasn't had a Democratic senator since Bob Krueger, whom Hutchison beat in June 1993 to finish Lloyd Bentsen's term.Sadler is a civil lawyer from Henderson in East Texas, an area that he represented in the Texas House from 1991 to 2003. He demonstrated his bipartisan working style as chairman of the House Public Education Committee in 1995-2003.Sadler and Sen. Bill Ratliff, a Republican, led a rewrite of the state Education Code that, among other things, provided health insurance for public school employees, raised teacher salaries, lowered property taxes and improved services for the youngest students as well as at-risk ninth-graders. Gov. George W. Bush signed it into law.Sadler can be aggressive, even abrasive, as he demonstrated in an early-October debate with Cruz. But Sadler has specific, practical notions about improving how the federal government functions for Texans. He also understands how policies translate into reality.For instance, where Cruz would abolish the U.S. Education Department and disburse federal funds to states through block grants, Sadler said that fixed-sum grants shortchange growing states like Texas and that doling out federal money without sufficient controls would diminish state and local accountability.Where Cruz has made repealing the entire Affordable Care Act a prominent part of his message, Sadler said wiping the slate clean would erase good parts of the law and remove lawmakers' leverage in dealing with insurance companies.Cruz says more competition in the marketplace will improve the healthcare system. Sadler understands that Texas' Republican leaders' stubborn resistance to the law's Medicaid expansion could end up shifting more costs for indigent care onto local taxpayers and jeopardize rural hospitals.Where Cruz has criticized President Barack Obama's directive allowing certain young illegal immigrants to seek temporary work authorization instead of being deported, Sadler supports a reasonable temporary work-permit program and a "reasonable path to citizenship."Both men support improved border security, but Sadler's approach shows a firmer grasp of Texas' trade relations with Mexico and the human dimension of reforming the immigration system.Cruz is a smart appellate lawyer who was born in Canada, raised in Houston and educated at Princeton and Harvard. (He got his law degree in 1995, four years after Obama, Harvard law '91.) Cruz was Texas solicitor general from 2003 to 2008, arguing Supreme Court cases that often pushed causes popular with political conservatives.Cruz upset Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst in the GOP primary and continues to act as though he's running against the Obama administration.The Star-Telegram Editorial Board recommends Paul Sadler for U.S. Senate.