The final candidate forum for CA-26 was last night and every candidate really treated the forum as one of the final appeals to voters before the primary. It was the first time I had ever attended a candidate's forum, I had watched the previous ones online, so it was quite a new experience for me.
There was a big crowd, the theater (which doubles as the city council chambers) was almost full, my Mom and I got there an hour early so we got good seat, which we managed to get in the third row. It was put on by the League of Women Voters, which puts on a lot of forums. The forum started almost right on time, despite the volunteers setting up things at the last minute.
Tony Strickland skipped this forum, which means that he missed 3 out of 4 forums that were held, but all the other candidates were present. They had a place set for him, so I'm not sure if he skipped at the last minute or what. I guess he's still trying to keep a low enough profile in his attempt to hide just how conservative he is.
All the questions were from the audience, the volunteers handed out index cards for the audience to write down questions. Most of the questions that the moderator asked were a composite of many people's questions, because so many people were interested in the same issues.
There was quite a bit discussed in the two hours that the forum lasted. This is one interesting race and I'll highlight it by going through each candidate.
Julia Brownley (D)
She came out the gate attacking the Republican House of Representatives and stating that she is ready to fight for women's rights, social security and medicare. She also stated she is in favor of reinstating Glass-Steagall.
Overall, she articulated her message and she answered a question about moving into the district by repeating that she has represented a portion of the county for six years in the Assembly. Brownley did a good job of showing that she is progressive and pragmatic. I would say this was her best performance out of all the forums that have been held.
Al Goldberg (D)
He was the only one on the panel to disregard climate change and he also confused Iran with Iraq. He accused Brownley of flip-flopping on Israel with no proof to back up his claim and later claimed that he's the only candidates that can be Tony Strickland. Mainly, he stuck to being quirky, with personal stories and how he's not a career politician. Basically, he's a regular some dude, except with a weird personality.
Jess Herrera (D)
He touted his time on the Harbor Commission and talked about local issues. His positions were mainly the same as Brownley's, he just put a local spin on some things. He should have a future in the party in some capacity, he's very strong on the issues and articulates them well. He mainly spent most of the time trying to emphasize his viability as a candidate.
Linda Parks (I)
Parks focused a lot on the mailers that have been sent out against her. She would sometimes hold up the mailers when Brownley was talking about Social Security, Medicare and Choice (these are the issues the mailers focused on), with some of her supporters laughing out loud during these moments.
She would a start off answer issue questions, but everything almost always came back to the mailers, over and over again. It was a shameless sympathy act.
David Cruz Thayne (D)
We finally got a picture of what his political involvement as been, he worked for the Minority Leader in the Utah State Senate before he moved to California.
He also had this idea that Representatives shouldn't have to got to Washington to vote on legislation, but be allowed to do it securely from the district office, saying it made them less likely to listen to special interests. Odd idea, but this race is anything but conventional, so I wasn't surprised to hear some odd things.
All the candidates think troops should be out of Afghanistan, which is a consensus for most people, anyway. The Defense of Marriage Act came up and none of the candidates were for it.
Choice and Women's Rights were supported across the board. Most of the differences between the candidates were economic.
Brownley contended that Social Security and Medicare can't be protected while maintaining Bush's tax cuts, while Parks stated she didn't think raising taxes was the solution and that is what Brownley kind of focused on Parks with.
Parks did later say she didn't think making corporations pay taxes was not a tax increase and was in support of that. Goldberg was the only one to actually mention the Buffett rule.
I thought Goldberg and Thayne really targeted Brownley, Both of them sided with Parks on the mailers, with Goldberg wagging his finger when Parks was complaining to Brownley about the mailers and Thayne went on to accuse Brownley of having people harass him with a lot of phone calls to drop out of the race. Brownley looked at Thayne when he was making his accusation like he was full of it. He was clearly trying his own sympathy act.
Brownley did well at sticking to the issues and not getting sidetracked with all the talk of the mailers and such. All that she stated about the mailers is that some of the of the mail was, quote "probably over the top" and encouraged people who objected to contact the DCCC to voice concerns.
All in all, it was very interesting and the crowd was pretty civil, save for a few people laughing or attempting to applaud, applauding was against the moderator's rules, but there was no heckling or jeering. There was a lot to take in, but these are basically the highlights. To read more about the forum, the Ventura County Star has it's write up available