For the second time in as many weeks, the three candidates in the 2nd Congressional District participated in a candidates’ forum. My thanks to the fine people at Second Calvary Baptist Church in Norfolk who not only hosted the debate, but had wireless access which allowed me to broadcast it in its entirety.
The forum was not as well-attended as the first one, perhaps because we were dealing with the possibility of Hurricane Earl making landfall in Norfolk. That is a shame, because this forum was much better than the first one in that it covered a lot more ground. And, for the most part, the candidates were much better with their answers, despite the irksome setup of having them answer questions in the same order every time. It was disadvantageous for Democratic incumbent Glenn Nye to have to answer every single question first, and advantageous to Republican challenger Scott Rigell to always answer last. Independent Kenny Golden provided his answers in between.
All of the candidates appeared to have been more relaxed at this forum. Working with 1-minute responses to the questions, you might expect there would be a lot of sound-bite answers – and there were some. Overall, though, that was not the case – and you have to give the candidates credit for that.
My impression, after reviewing the video a couple of times, is that there was, once again, no clear “winner” in this debate. They all had their moments, both positive and negative.
Nye’s approach is to be precise, almost clinical, in his responses. He cites his record and – annoyingly – his “independence.” He seemed prepared for attacks that really didn’t come, especially in his closing statement. When they did come, he stood his ground.
Rigell was much softer in his answers, eschewing the “preacher talk” he adopted in the earlier forum. I was surprised to hear him call “Obamacare,” the Republican characterization of health care reform, a pejorative. He made, in my opinion, a major gaffe when he tried to pin the JFCOM situation on Nye but not on fellow Republican Randy Forbes. If Rigell is going to go after Nye for voting for Nancy Pelosi for speaker, somebody needs to point out that Rigell is going to do the Republican equivalent: vote for John Boehner.
Golden was the truth-teller at the forum. He said that JFCOM is “gone,” which squares with what others close to the situation tell me. And he said that negative ads work, which we all know to be the case. (If they didn’t, no one would run them.) He seemed a little subdued, though, and slipped at the end, when he referred to this area as San Diego.
If memory serves, there were only three candidate forums in the entire 2008 campaign. We’ve already had two – before Labor Day. I know of at least two others (not including the Chamber event, in which the three candidates will appear separately), including the one televised debate the League of Women Voters, in conjunction with ODU and WHRO, is hosting on October 9. Golden and Nye have already committed to that event, and I hope Rigell will follow their lead. The 660,000 residents of the 2nd Congressional District deserve to hear more than 30-second commercials on what these candidates will do once in Washington.
After all, not all of them read this blog 😉