Last night was the Clean Elections debate for the Republican candidates from LD 18. I humbly offer to you my opinions on each candidate's performance last night and what I now think of each one.
In alphabetical order:
It was apparent that Mr. Ash has spent some time giving careful consideration to the different issues facing our state. His answers were well reasoned and demonstrated that he was open to considering alternatives to our problems vs. blind obedience to the party-line. This shows that he thinks for himself, and I like that. I have some reservations about his position on taxes, but at least I have the confidence that he will think things through and not just automatically use a tax increase as a knee-jerk reaction to a looming problem.
Going into this debate I didn't know a whole lot about Mr. Court's positions on anything. I know him personally and like him a lot, but he didn't come to the debate sponsored by the LD 18 Republicans last month, so this was the first opportunity I had to hear him.
I liked his answers. They were very free-market, conservative, and fiscally responsible. He came across as someone who could look at the State budget, find problems, and correct them. Since we are losing Rep. Pearce's budgeting expertise in the House, having someone with similar talents is important for us, and that is a huge plus for Mr. Court.
1- His alignment with Kevin Gibbons (see below) and some of Gibbons’ supporters (Udall et al).
2- Will he be responsive to the LD 18 Republicans? I would like to see him involved in the party with the rest of us.
Miss Henderson spoke about how much experience she has in so many different areas that it called her credibility into question. Seriously - how much experience can someone in their early 20’s have? Some of her responses were just naive, and her comment on marriage showed that she didn’t understand the point of the Marriage Ammendment at all.
She said that she was passionate about several things, but could never really articulate a clear position on the issues she was passionate about.
I give Miss Henderson kudos for running traditional in an open primary where everyone else is running with Clean Elections Funds. With a few more years of experience under her belt she would make a much more credible candidate and have a fair shot at being an effective legislator. If she gets elected now she will just be a door mat for the legislators that have been around the block a few more times.
Mr. Middlebrook is a straight down the line conservative. He clearly articulated his desire to get back to the basics of a very limited government that stays within its constitutional parameters. He mentioned finding a way to protect states from renegade federal judges who legislate from the bench, and I would be interested to hear how he would accomplish this. (To me this is an issue that can only be solved at the federal level - but it needs to be solved so I'll take any suggestions) Mr. Middlebrook has a lot of passion and is able to articulate this passion clearly and concisely into believable policy statements. My only concern is that he is passionate about his positions to the point that I don't know if he would give fair consideration to opposing points of view. We want principled and courageous legislators, but we also need legislators who can work with others to get things done. He has the first part down pat. Let's see about the "plays well with others" part.
This post will unfortunately reveal one of the things that I absolutely hate about politics. Even if you personally like a guy, your disagreements with them on policy issues are public and not always very nice.
I have never seen someone pander to a crowd with such despicable regularity as he did last night. He didn't directly answer a single question. Instead he showed his accumen as a lawyer by turning every question into an opportunity to bash Mr. Pearce about some policy or another. He told so many pointless stories that I thought I was at a campfire event, not a debate.
When asked a question about child welfare Mr. Gibbons said: "I think all babies are valuable, even brown ones." It was a underhanded dig at Mr. Pearce that completely missed the point of the question and revealed who the real "racist" on the stage was. The comment that really got my goat was when he said "You need to understand that the immigration debate is a complex issue." True enough, but his tone was so condescending that it made you think that only he held the key of knowledge that could unlock its mysteries.
Mr. Gibbons showed that he is not a conservative by any stretch of the imagination. Overall, I think his performance on stage last night may have backfired on him. He came across as pompous and arrogant, and showed that he would not articulate a response to an important question. I have serious reservations about Mr. Gibbons' being our State Senator.
A word of advice for Mr. Gibbons for the next debate (if there is one). Stop telling pointless stories and answer the questions.
All in all, I thought Mr. Pearce showed enormous restraint when responding to the incessant digs Mr. Gibbons threw his way, but he did take the bait a couple of times. He answered the questions that were asked, but frequently got too caught up in the details to finish answering his questions in the allotted time. Mr. Pearce's grasp of the issues and what can be done about them came across loud and clear. He has taken a beating in the public for many of his positions, but he didn't back down from any of them and was able to give a reasoned argument for those positions. I know that a lot of people hate him, but you never have a doubt about where he stands on the issues.
It is unfortunate that Mr. Pearce is running with Clean Elections funding this go-around because it gives Mr. Gibbons a handy stick to beat him with.
My advice to Mr. Pearce for the next debate (if there is one): Try to give a more succinct answer to the question. The dizzying array of detail you provide is impressive, but it doesn't leave you enough time to make it through the entire point.
I thought that the debate itself was well done by the moderator. He was completely impartial and politely attempted to keep the candidates within allotted time frames.
The low point in this debate was when illegal aliens were being discussed and someone in the audience said “Throw them all in the gas chamber, that will solve the problem.” What an asinine comment! That disturbed individual just gave the media more grist to grind us with. Even though the entire audience reacted with horror and disgust to this comment, the only thing that will be reported is that the comment was made at a Republican debate.