Home Virginia Politics Live Blog: 10th CD Democratic Candidates Debate

Live Blog: 10th CD Democratic Candidates Debate


7 pm: It begins, George Burke hosting. Introductions of the two candidates, Jeff Barnett and Rich Anthony. 3 minute opening statements.

Jeff Barnett Opening Statement: Stepping up to answer call to serve once again. “I am tired of Republican debt and denial.” Tired of them “passing off the buck to the next generation.” Four big areas: jobs, housing, transportation, ending our wars. I have specific proposals, people want action. Wolf has not delivered, I will. “Rock solid” Democrat, retired colonel. “This is a winnable election.” “If Massachusetts can elect a Republican Senator, we can elect a Democratic Congressman.”

Rich Anthony Opening Statement: Thanks everyone for debate. “I can and will beat Frank Wolf this fall…never would have gotten into this race if I didn’t believe that.” Positive economic message has resonated well. This issue is what I know, what I’ve been doing for the past 15 years – economic and workforce development. Help communities attract new employers, help people who’ve lost their jobs get training and assistance they need to get back on their feet. It’s important to know something about the issue you’re running on.  One hell of a retirement party for Frank Wolf.

More after the “flip”

Thanks to Bryan Scrafford for the photo

7:07 – Burke explains ground rules, describes district.

Question on US presence in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Jeff Barnett: I’ve seen the misery of war, have two kids active duty. I will never make decisions of a political nature on these wars. $200 billion a year for those 2 wars. We’ve lost 4,400 people in Iraq and 1,023 killed in Afghanistan. Iraq war was totally unnecessary, Afghan war bungled. Thankfully the surge and Anbar Awakening, that war’s coming to a close. Afghan war much more problematic. I support that war, but will ask very hard questions and stay on top of it. I have background, expertise…will be hard to persuade me to extend that war.

Rich Anthony: Echo many of Jeff’s sentiments. Clearly understand the mission, timetable for getting out.  I support the president’s plan and timetable. I want us to do everything humanly possible to get our young men and women home as soon as possible.

Question on policy towards Israel.

Rich Anthony: Israel is a strong friend of US. Often times we disagree. Recently, some of the actions that have taken place illustrate this perfectly.  Israel’s right to defend itself, we need to work towards peaceful resolution.  Diplomatic solutions, save as many live as possible, work with both Israelis and Palestinians.

Jeff Barnett: US committed to security of Israel. We can have frank discussions as friends. Disagreements over settlements; there is no peace in the area without 2-state solution. Necessary for Israel’s existence as a Jewish state and as a Democracy. I’m optimistic about peace in the area. Work with Israel and with the Palestinians. Light at the end of the tunnel.

Question on health care reform.

Jeff Barnett: Biggest regret I have is that I wasn’t in Congress to vote for that bill. That was historic. Cost, affordability, pre-existing conditions, bringing people into the system; this addresses all of those.  32 million more people get health care. Could have been better, but this is a great start. This is not the end game. Health care will be continuing issue going forward, this is just health insurance reform, will have to be watched and tweaked.

Rich Anthony: I would have absolutely voted yes. Is it a perfect bill, no. Will we have the opportunity to fix it, absolutely. That’s what I want to do in Congress, build on the positives and add to them. Possibly a public option. Bottom line is we’ve managed to turn a corner, we’ve made progress. If Frank Wolf and other Republicans want to run on repeal, that’s a debate I’m looking forward to. So far Frank hasn’t come out and said whether he’ll join the “repeal” wing of his caucus. Frank Wolf had opportunity to put his constituents needs ahead of greedy insurance companies and corporate lobbyists; he chose the greedy companies an corporate lobbyists.

Question on budget deficit.

Rich Anthony: I’ve said since the beginning, this comes down to three things – jobs, jobs, jobs. We’ve lost 8.2-8.4 million jobs, not paying Social Security or payroll taxes, who are spending less. This has affected every area of our economy, budgets at all levels. Best way to make progress on deficit is by combination of cutting programs where there is waste, plus getting people back to work.  Give people skills and training they need to succeed, will turn drain on system into a plus. Continue to do what we’ve been doing, do more to get people back to work.

Jeff Barnett: Difference between Richard and myself.  We have about $1.3 trillion deficit. Stimulus is about $900 billion, so we have $400 billion we need to close. Three phased approach. Grow jobs, I have a plan for that. Revisit our tax structure, we have an industrial age tax structure and the vestiges of trickle-down economics (e.g., AMT). AMT rate goes down for wealthy. We need to change our revenue stream, where we spend our money. We can cut discretionary spending – half if in the military, there is great savings to be had in that sector.

Rich Anthony rebuttal: Jeff’s correct that we do differ on this. One of the cornerstones of my answer is education and training.  People need long-term strategy to get good-paying job soon. They need training, education is the silver bullet.

Jeff Barnett rebuttal: Don’t understand what you meant by long-term plan for immediate effect. They still have to have a job to go to, we don’t have a job to go to, I’ve got a plan to focus federal investment on the next generation of jobs. We’re lacking vision – without a vision, the people perish. That’s what got us going on internet, jet engines…

[BREAK 7:29 pm]

Question on energy independence and global climate change.

Rich Anthony: Don’t know what Obama administration is thinking in changing their stance on offshore drilling. I’m against that, although I understand there’s a short-term need and we need a stopgap. But I’d want certain assurance – safe as humanly possible, we don’t need oil spills off coast of Virginia, oil stays right here in United States and shouldn’t be sold to other countries. I support aggressive policy of research and development on alternative fuels. Right now, we’re getting our butts kicked by Chinese in solar power.

Jeff Barnett: Rich and I have a lot of commonality. It’s all about energy independence. Drilling off Virginia’s coast has nothing to do with energy independence – 3 days supply of oil off Virginia’s coast. This isn’t even a drop in the bucket. We need to move towards renewables, move from fossil-fuel-centered industry into renewable industry. Right now, we’re addicted to fossil fuels. This is going to be a long process but it’s one we have to do. Fossil fuels are killing us environmentally, balance of payments, in terms of jobs. We need next generation of energy jobs in America.  It comes from brainpower, not from the ground.

Question on economic recovery/stimulus act.

Jeff Barnett: The bill was absolutely necessary. Were Republicans asleep in High School. History of Great Depression; there is a role for Government to apply bridge funding, basic Keynesian economics. The need for stabilization funding is clear. Government is not the same as a business; when times get tough, demand goes up, government must meet that demand.  4-year period is very reasonable. After that, we need to balance the budget. Every economist says we were on the verge of a collapse without deficit spending.

Rich Anthony: Very important, number of jobs saved or created is amazing, where we’d be without it is horrifying. We’re just now starting to turn the corner, we’ve grown 162,000 new jobs. Dramatic improvement. If we didn’t have stimulus, we couldn’t have caught ourselves as we fell off the cliff. I don’t know why Frank Wolf voted no on this or on many other things. He’s consistently voted “no, no, no, no” with his party since President Obama sworn in.  He is more interested in helping his party than helping his constituents.

Question on transportation.

Rich Anthony: If I had an answer to that, the election would be over. It’s one of the top issues on everyone’s mind, people tired of 2-hour commutes, time away from kids and home. It’s frustrating. We hear politicians coming up with formulas, magic solutions. I’m not going to promise definitive answer, but there are a number of things we can do. First, 80/20 funding formula needs to change to population-based formula – means more money for Fairfax, Loudoun, Prince William. Gerry Connolly has proposed possible extension of Metro along Orange line to Centreville, Blue Line to Woodbridge. We need to do more with bus rapid transit, an untapped resource. Lastly, more teleworking – huge opportunity to get cars off the road.

Jeff Barnett: The problem is we could spend an hour discussing this. We need to get out ahead of this problem, not just widen/tweak what we inherited from our parents. We need next generation of transportation for this area. Growth in this area is a constant, Loudoun has tripled since 1993. We have got to overbuild our transportation. More north-south links, more rail links (Reston-Rockville, Leesburg-Gaithersburg), what would happen if American Legion Bridge went down? We need an alternative to American Legion Bridge. 10th CD congressman in perfect position to form that consensus – Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia. Frank Wolf has not done that. Another problem is I-95, we need to get I-95 traffic off our Beltway. Where should it go? Only a few alternatives, but we have to step up to it. If we don’t, we’ll strangle our future here in Virginia.

Question about widening I-66.

Jeff Barnett: I hope Jim Moran’s not watching. It’s easy for me, “yes,” because it doesn’t directly affect me. We made a deal with Arlington County.  Yes, we need to revisit the # of lanes flowing through Arlington. Metro to Dulles may alleviate that traffic to some extent, but Silver Line will also cause economic boom in that area.

Rich Anthony: Possibly, and I don’t mean that as a hedge. That would be a last resort for me.  First look at telecommuting, telework, reduce time people are on the road, reduce the amount of emissions. Extending Metro and increasing capacity on Metro, parking facilities, incentivize ridership on Metro. People in NOVA like their cars, they’ll need compelling reason to move away from their cars. More incentive for public transportation, need the capacity or people won’t come back and try it again.

Rich asks Jeff a question on single issue, home mortages. Would you agree that in order to be credible by voters, candidate needs to possess some expertise on that issue? What’s your experience on this?

Jeff Barnett: I’ve talked about 4 issues – jobs, housing, transportation, ending our wars, all one issue. They’re all one issue. I reject your assertion that any of us should run on a single issue. There are multiple issues.

Jeff asks Rich a question about winning independent voters.

Rich Anthony: 49% DPI. It voted for Jim Webb, Tim Kaine, Mark Warner, Barack Obama. I think the 10th is winnable. People looking for someone they can relate to, shares their values, faces same challenges in daily life, reject inside-the-Beltway candidate, that’s not me. I come from solid, middle-class background. Wolf has consistently defeated inside-the-Beltway candidate. Need someone who can earn trust of voters in the 10th.

Closing statements.

Rich Anthony: Enjoyed the debate. We agree on many things, certain things we don’t agree on. FDR in inaugural address – greatest task is to put people to work.  We can’t take our eye off the ball.

Jeff Barnett: Incredibly optimistic about our area, most fiber-rich dirt on earth, expansion capacity at Dulles.  Optimistic about future of party, this area is trending blue and Wolf is trending towards far right. This is a very winnable election, I’m that guy. I am electable across our base and across independents, I can beat Frank Wolf.


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