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I watched the video and did a flow of the debate as it occurred
placing the questions and then the answers of each candidate in columns beside each other.  In my opinion Creigh and Brian were very close.  Brian's presentation was better, but on some issues such as the comments on Terry's failure to support Virginia Dems while chair of the DNC Creigh had a more substantive answer.  That was one of his highlights.  

On a number of questions Terry did not provide any substance at all.  These included the gun shows question and the police/firefighter collective bargaining question, where he piggybacked onto Brian and Creigh's comments and said they all agreed.  Brian had a more substantive and visceral response on the gun control question, reaching into his background as a prosecutor and bartender, while Creigh went on the attack against him.  Frankly, Brian won that argument in the end, but Terry was just a bystander.

Terry chose to address the state and local issue of student voting rights by touting his record of building a "voter file" and claiming credit for the expansion of Democratic grassroots.  I think there are those within the national party who would beg to differ, but more to the point he really didn't answer the question.

On equal pay Terry didn't really talk about it except to say he support the Ledbetter law.  Yeah, so do Brian and Creigh.  In fact, all three argued that equal pay is tied to increased access to education, although Terry must have said "jobs" six or seven times.  Brian connected well by citing a study linking the pay gap to inadequate education and with his story of his father and his kids.  Creigh went straight for the issue of money devoted to education and had the most impressive number, the 78% increase in tuition costs for Virginia students.  I think Brian edged Creigh, but it was close, and by that time Terry's constant refrain of "jobs, jobs, jobs" was beginning to sound canned.

All three of the candidates ducked the Smithfield question so quickly that I almost expected one to shout "goose!", but alas, it was not to be.  Creigh seemed oddly off balance from this question, eventually saying he didn't know if he's ever received Smithfield money, but figures  he must have just from long presence in the legislature.  Yes, that's what happen when you're actually working as a state legislator.  Terry's lack of any connection with elective Virginia office allows him to parade the kind of purity which comes from being a brand new, sprung from the head of Zeus just six months ago type of candidate.  New clothes are always clean and crisp and smell nice.  Anyway, Terry and Brian both sounded good, but since the question really had to do with preventing the deleterious environmental effects of something other than chicken waste I'd give that one to Brian.

Just hopping around some of the other issues, Brian said there should be no discrimination and he and Creigh went all lawyer-y on the Interstate Compact question, which actually is a very difficult legal issue.  Terry simply said no discrimination, period.  Sounds good, but Brian was right, it IS a complex issue.  Terry tends to skim over complexities and nuance, preferring instead to be the big picture guy.  That's great if he's the salesman, not so much if he's the CEO.  This question highlighted his weakness as a candidate, his lack of depth in administration and the cold, boring work of governing.

On who's best against Bob Terry invited attack by claiming he would never attack a Democrat, which contradicts his history, but in my opinion Brian needs to stop getting so exercised over it.  The funny thing is that Terry's repeated and rude interruptions of Brian at this point made him seem desperate to avoid discussion of little matters like Global Crossing and his aggressive campaign against Obama.  Dozens of videotaped news show appearances can't be wrong.  This issue seems to worry him.  His focus on Brian allowed Creigh to get in a couple of licks about NAFTA, Terry's failure to show real support of Va. Dems before his miraculous remaking as a gubernatorial candidate, and I think his failure to support Obama.  I was getting sleepy by this point and losing focus.  Terry keeps throwing Brian a softball with his "I'm the candidate of big ideas" schtick, but Brian keeps waiting for a better pitch.  Why?  

Yeah, when I first started out I had plenty of big ideas about the best way to raise kids, win a case, or fix my plumbing, and on most of them reality hit me in the face like a mildewing damp towel.  We have one of those towels in the General Assembly.  It's called the Republican party.  Terry can have all the big ideas he wants. How is he going to make them work?


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