Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Debates Last Night

I watched nearly all of the governor, lt. governor, and AG debates last night (I missed about 20 minutes of the governor's debate but I don't think anything in that 20 minutes would change my mind). My observations, for what they are worth:
Governor's debate:
Governor Riley mopped the floor with Lucy. Lucy looked tired and, at least on my TV, red in the face like somebody had covered her with too much blush make up. She stumbled all night and was completely unimpressive. The governor stuck to his theme of bringing integrity and openness to the state house, at times sounding like a broken record, but also sounding much more qualified and interesting than Lucy.
Lt. Governor's Debate:
This was a very close debate with 2 polished candidates. I would say that Luther won it but not by much. Folsom came off as an experienced politician with deep ties to Montgomery and Alabama politics; in many states, this would make him the winner but I am not sure it does in Alabama. It is no secret that the legislature in many ways is a millstone around Riley's (a very popular governor's) neck and is thought of as representing an older, in many ways out of date version of Alabama politics. Folsom sounded like the candidate of the old ways. Luther was a little less polished than Folsom, in that he did not sound like a career politician. He was well spoken and articulate but you could tell he had less political experience, which is not a bad thing and is one of the reasons I think he was better in the debate. He did a good job of tying himself to the governor and arguing that he would be a help, not a hindrance like his opponent, to the governor's agenda. If you watched the debate, you realized that there were real differences between the candidates, especially since Luther began his answer to each question with "this is another difference between me and my opponent." Folsom has run a Republican-esque campaign, playing up conservative themes and appealing to gun toting voters so I guess this was probably needed but it was a little bit weird after a while. Luther would have won the debate hands down, except that he did come across as a little too close to Washington--talking about his relationships with both Alabama senators and his ability to work with them to get more federal funding for transportation. This is obviously good for Alabama in the long-run but it also makes me slightly uneasy. Overall, however, Luther came across as the voice of change and the candidate who would help and not hinder the progress that Riley has made in Alabama.
AG Debate:
Now this was entertaining. The gloves came off immediately and stayed off for 30 minutes. I actually think both candidates won different elements of the debate. Tyson, if you ignored the fact that he could not finish an answer in the allotted time and appeared angry the entire debate, had the best substantive answers. He was for crime prevention and pretty easily painted King as being almost an enforcement only person; prevention is very important in any state, but especially Alabama, since our prisons are already filled to capacity with criminals. King, if you ignore his substantive answers, came off as the better, more personally appealing candidate. He maintained eye contact and did not look like he was about to bust a blood vessel like Tyson did all night. The dumbest thing King did was accuse Tyson of having no experience and saying that his use of plea bargains was bad. Tyson has tons of relevant experience as a prosecutor and plea bargains are important tools in our legal system that should be used. Before the debate I was leaning toward voting for Tyson; after the debate, I think I am just not going to vote for either candidate. I don't think Tyson has the temperment to be AG and I don't think King has the intelligence.
If you missed the debates, you missed some great political entertainment. We will see what effects they have on the races.
For other views on how the debates came out, see this link and www.politicsinalabama.com generally.


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