The debate last night put on by the Progressive Democrats of America turned out a lot better than I’d expected heading in, given that only 2 candidates (Mark Levine and Derek Hyra) were going to be there for the entire debate, 1 candidate (Patrick Hope) was going to be there for part of it, and the rest (other than Don Beyer) slated to send “surrogates.” It turns out that the surrogates did very well – I’d argue that at Ebbin’s (Justin Strekal) and Hope’s (Karen Gautney) were absolutely superb, in some ways better than the candidates themselves (can I vote for Strekal or Gautney in this election? LOL) – while Euille’s and Chatman’s were very strong in more limited roles (e.g., they weren’t authorized to respond to questions, other than ones they were 100% sure about).
The debate was well organized, the questions were interesting, and there were some serious fireworks between the candidates – including Mark Levine repeatedly going after Don Beyer, who wasn’t there (note that I’ve emailed the Beyer campaign to ask why they didn’t send a surrogate to the debate, which is disappointing), as well as Patrick Hope and Don Beyer as “lobbyists” (for doctors and car dealers, respectively); and the other candidates who didn’t show up. For his part, Hope went after Levine as a “passive aggressive progressive” (in response to Levine calling him a “lobbyist,” which Hope said he was proud of), as well as for attacking Beyer when he wasn’t there. Definitely a lively debate!
Here’s some video (I’ll post more in the comments section of this post), starting with Mark Levine criticizing Don Beyer for “support[ing] fast track…for the Bush Administration; he felt that the Bush Administration could be completely trusted to do trade deals and he said so very clearly…when he was the lobbyist for foreign car dealers.”
P.S. Also note that I didn’t get video of some of the exchanges at the end, as my video camera ran out of juice after 1 1/2 hours or so. On ethanol, Levine correctly called it a “sham” which could actually use more energy to produce than it produces. Ebbin’s surrogate correctly called it a “big handout” to agribusiness and “money not well spent.” For whatever reason, Hope and Hyra didn’t answer directly about ethanol, just talked about promoting renewable energy (note: I checked with the Hope campaign this morning, and they said the ethanol subsidy should be phased out and moved into investments in renewables – good answer!). On another topic, guns, Levine was very passionate that Democrats need to run on this issue and call out Republicans for it, as the vast majority of Americans support background checks. All the candidates/surrogates who responded about the PATRIOt Act and mass surveillance felt it went too far and should be drastically scaled back or ended.
P.P.S. I’m not sure if any other reporters were there, but if so I didn’t see them.