Two of the three candidates for governor squared off at The Homestead this morning. Although the third, Libertarian candidate Robert Sarvis, will appear on the ballot and has garned support in recent polls, he was not included. So we had a slugfest between the two major party candidates, Republican Ken Cuccinelli and Democrat Terry McAuliffe. I don’t have any idea how many people were in the room but only about 2,400 folks were watching the live stream provided by PBS. In a state with 5.2 million registered voters, that is a drop in the bucket. I’m guessing almost all of the viewers were political junkies – and partisan political junkies at that. Throughout the debate, I kept open a Twitter window with postings for the debate hashtag. If you watched nothing else, you’d think there were two debates going on.
From a policy standpoint, there was nothing in this debate that was new. We’ve all heard it before. Both candidates scored a few “gotcha” remarks, which partisans seized on, even if they were not true. I’m sure the catch phrases will show up in all of the reports of the debate, so I won’t waste time repeating them.
What was clear from the debate, though, is that there are real differences between the two candidates’ positions on almost every issue imaginable. This is not a “flip a coin” race.
That makes it all the more disappointing that more folks didn’t tune in, especially when you consider that in years past, we had no public access to this first-of-the-campaign debate.
I would have liked to have had Sarvis included, if for no other reason than to break up the monotony of negative insults the two hurled at each other. I hope other debate hosts consider including him.
Otherwise, it’s going to be a long time to November.
UPDATE: Here is the video. The debate starts at about the 24 minute mark.