I thought I would do everyone a favor and Blog about the Virginia Democratic Lt. Governor's Candidates Debate/Forum I attended last night.
First I would like to lambaste the Virginia Democratic Party for absolutely a terrible event presentation wise. It was at Virginia Wesleyan, but there was zero visibility out front or signs directing you into the debate. Also where was the advertising for the event? Nothing was in the local papers; there was zero effort to inform local Democrats. The only way I knew about it was from checking that sad thing you all call a website last week.
It was poorly attended with almost no Wesleyan students (probably because they did not know what was going on). You have millions of dollars from the DNC for a coordinated campaign, so how about spending a couple of hundred dollars on signs and an advertisement to get some attention on the event.
Now as for the debate!
It was slow methodical debate with an interesting panel. The Dean of Academics at Wesleyan along with a Political Science professor from the College. They were well equipped with tough questions for the candidates on Gay Marriage, Transportation and Medicare. The third panelist a junior from Hampton who supposed to be a young democrat was a joke. HE at one point did not even know who Senator Leslie Byrnne was and also appeared to doze off at one point. Not to mention he did a poor job of speaking clearly. I hope we can do better for future debates.
The moderator our brand new Communication Director was a joke. First of all this was poorly attended event with no TV or Radio coverage, so I do not understand why he thought he was on TV or Radio with the strict adherence to time limits. Let the candidates answer, if they go over by 30 seconds so what. People can leave whenever they want and time limits are usually reserved for TV because of their programming obligations.
Also the moderator rudely interrupted Senator Puckett's closing statement and told him to rap it up when he was clearly closing down and had only gone over by a few seconds. At the time of this idiotic interruption the debate was only just over an hour in length, in other words it was uncalled for. By the way how come we did not have a personality locally moderating this thing other than the very amateur communications director?
As for the debate here are the highlights and low lights of each candidate:
Viola Baskerville - The Good was that she talked about wanting to help small businesses. She offered no plan as to how to help them, but she said she wanted too. She also put forth a decent sounding environmental record and mentioned she is pro not discriminating against anyone even if they are gay.
The Bad was that she at one point indicated she would be the best candidate because she is a woman and black. That was a little bit bizarre, how about some substance other than gender and race for qualifications. She was also very poor in articulating her positions.
Leslie Byrnne - The Good was her clear stance on Gay Marriage and the Environment. She made a great point about being married for 40 years and thinking everyone should be able to enjoy that opportunity. Her environmental record is impeccable and she wants to target Shenandoah and the Chesapeake Bay for clean up immediately.
The Bad was her stance that Doug Wilder showed us how Democrats win the Governorship by getting more votes out of Northern Virginia. That is garbage, Warner our current Democratic Governor won because he got an unprecedented vote share for a Democrat out of Rural Southwestern and Southside Virginia. Essentially Leslie is a flaming liberal who I love, but she could never get enough votes out of Nova to help Tim Kaine to cover the ones she would alienate in Southern Virginia for him.
Chap Petersen - The good was he continues to punctuate his ability to represent a young fresh look on politics and offer people hope. HE sounds fine on the gun issue as he talks about hunting with dear old Dad back in the day, and also was good talking about the Oyster Festival in Middlesex with Grandpa and translating that into giving a crap about the Chesapeake Bay.
The bad were that awful answer on Gay Marriage for which he is against. He said that Virginia had a history that some thought was ugly and disgraceful (I am assuming here he was talking about slavery) he then said he thought that history was prideful (I could here the gasps in the room) fooled by I'm Chap Petersen and I do not support Gay Marriage because that is what our history in Virginia stands for. What? If you are confused so was I, how could a politician in being against slavery seem to openly endorse slavery from our past. It was awful and I would appreciate someone calling Chap and getting clarity on that issue. It was just plain bizarre.
Phillip Puckett - The good was he sounds very genuine on everything if not a bit country bumpkin. I love his thought on wanting to have the state help make it affordable for people to take care of their seniors at home. HE wants an incentive that gives people a way to take care of Grandma or Pa at home rather than send them to a nursing home, which in Virginia is like a death sentence. Also his want to ensure clean drinking water for every Virginia was a very good policy piece for him.
The bad was he is against Gay Marriage and Pro Life, but he does well saying that those are his moral values and he will never introduce legislation to discriminate against a person based on sexual orientation or limit abortion rights, he just can't vote for them morally. There is something comforting about a man who is clear on where he stands and what he will and want do.
Baskerville (C) Average Performance
Byrnne (C) Great Liberal, Bad Candidate in VA
Petersen (F) Can he really be for Slavery
Puckett (B) Slowly, but Surely Looking like a future Governor
Overall the debate was terribly organized and not that well attended. I hope these candidates get noticed soon, because right now the Democratic Primary may not have anyone show up for it.