The candidates in the 1st Senate district – incumbent Sen. John Miller and challenger Mickey Chohany – squared off Friday evening in Newport News. I arrived a little after the 6:30pm start time, thanks to the tunnel traffic. The event was already underway.
The candidates took a variety of questions put forth by the event sponsor, the Virginia Peninsula MAL Unit of the League of Women Voters, as well as questions submitted by the audience. Moderating the event was John Fredericks, editorial page editor of The Daily Press, who co-sponsored the event.
Voters living in the 1st Senate district, which now includes a portion of Suffolk, are provided a clear choice between the two candidates. Miller, who is completing his first term, referenced his record. Chohany spoke about Bob McDonnell.
Seriously – it seemed as if Chohany had no opinion other than that held by the governor. So many times did he reference McDonnell that I asked him afterwards if there was anything on which he disagreed with the governor. He said yes: the privatization of ABC.
One of the more interesting things that came up in the debate was the gas tax. Interesting because by the time I got home, this article about the City of Virginia Beach considering asking the General Assembly to increase the gas tax had posted on PilotOnline. Chohany is not in favor of a gas tax increase, while Miller is – at least in conjunction with other items, like tolls, to do something about transportation.
As one might expect, Miller had a much better grasp of the issues than Chohany. That comes with actually being in office and seeing what happens. There were a couple of occasions where he admitted he needed more time to learn about the issue – refreshing, actually. And he confused light rail with high speed rail.
The election is November 8th. More specific information on the candidates can be found in this Voter Guide (pdf).
UPDATE: Video of the forum can be viewed on the website of The Daily Press, although it appears that the “More Videos” link is currently broken.