Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Senate Debate

The debate was a free-for-all. Democrat Ben Cardin, Republican Michael Steele and Unity candidate Kevin Zeese spent an hour trying to get votes for the upcoming U.S. Senate race. Candidates decided on what could be called the Fox News format: no rules. Participants were free to cut one another off, make snide remarks during other's soliloquies, and ignore the stocked questions all together.

So what did the candidates do for this one-hour meelee? Bickered over which candidates were "hand-picked" by their parties. Steele said Cardin's primary opponent was given a bad shake by his party and noted that Mfume entered the race before Cardin, as if the nomination should have been decided on a first come, first serve basis. They also discussed Cardin's record on issues like Iraq and health care - he repeated his "took on the pharmaceutical companies" line. Cardin tied Steele to President Bush at every given chance. Zeese railed against corporate welfare, political contributions, the Patriot Act, the Iraq war - basically made us liberal Democrats wish he had a D after his name.

The format made for crowded conversation interrupted with commercial breaks - we'd guess at most 30 minutes were devoted to substantive conversation - but at least it was a healthy exercise in democracy. Steele actually came out with a few solid positions, including his opposition to embryonic stem cell research and support for the Bush tax cuts, and didn't stray from his smooth talk. Huge shock: the Lt. Governor advocated transit-oriented development! (It's unlikely the car-dependent suburbanite would actually put the money where his mouth) Cardin faced touch challenges from the left in Kevin Zeese (these moments were met with huge smiles on Steele's face). And all the candidates had a chance to showcase their personalities and positions. There wasn't a clear political winner, but it gave Marylanders a chance to see all three major candidates engaged with one another.

See for yourself when the debate reairs tonight at 7pm on Maryland Public Television's By the People Debate Week.

from The League: Reassembled


Blogger Matthew Jerome said...

Good analysis--I agree that there wasn't a clear political winner.

I think Steele came off as a bit too aggressive and unlikable. Maybe he's trying to up the ante a bit, but it hurts his whole friendly talk-show puppy-loving non-partisan image he's trying to sell.

Cardin, meanwhile, didn't impress me terribly either. He has let Michael Steele make him the issue, and not the other way around. Cardin's no dummy, but he looked overmatched at some points.

As much as there is a strong party advantage for the Dems in MD, and as much as I think Cardin will pull this one out in the end, I fee like this one is going to make me nervous all the way up to election night.

10/26/2006 09:41:00 AM  
Blogger Becky said...

What was aired last night, was not a debate, but a free-for-all. The moderator (and I use the term loosely) was incompetent. It was a dreadful exhibition. Kevin Zeese should be ashamed of himself. He is a spoiler...he wants Steele to win so the situation gets SO BAD that liberals will vote for 3rd parties...he is an egotistic selfish oath who has put his own ego above the common good.
Cardin and Steele have the opportunity for a real debate this Sunday on Meet the Press. Hopefully Tim Russert will be able to hold Steele's feet to the fire and get some real answers. The whole thing about the purple line was plain stupid! I don't care if my Senator knows about the Purple Line; he's not running for County Council. This from the guy who said, when asked about Roe vs Wade, what difference does it make what my opinion is, I'm running for Senate."
Please, give me a break!!!!

10/26/2006 09:46:00 AM  
Blogger andy k in MD said...

Any recent polls on this race? I haven't seen any, and its been a while.

10/26/2006 10:35:00 AM  
Blogger Ned Hodgman said...

The Purple Line slip could hurt Cardin (principally because it could reduce Dem turnout on the 7th). He could, however, use it to his advantage with a quick, DC-suburbs focused ad in which he says "People may be wondering if I'm in touch with the issues they care about. Well, I took some time out of campaigning to study the Purple Line proposal, and here's why I'm for it" (followed by a brief summary of the benefits for Montgomery, PG, Howard county residents). Then close with "Learning the issues. Making things work for the people of Maryland. Ben Cardin." It's thoughtful, it's frank, and it fits his image. The gaffe is gone.

10/26/2006 11:13:00 AM  
Blogger Matthew Jerome said...

To answer the q about Polls:

This from National Journal today:

A Garin Hart Young (D) poll conducted 10/24-25 has Cardin up 52%-40%. A Voter Consumer Research (R) poll conducted 10/22-23 has Cardin up 41%-39%. Keep in mind, though, that both are from partisan polling orgs, so the real number is probably in between.

10/26/2006 05:02:00 PM  

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