So I watched the debate the other night between the two Democrats vying for the nomination for the 2nd Congressional District seat. Let me say, off the bat, that it was one of the most poorly run debates I have ever seen. It was on public access TV, which is hardly known for high production value. But aside from a few times where the camera was set onto the wrong candidate, that was hardly the problem. The real problem was the moderators.
The moderators consisted of the public access show's host, the head of the local chapter of NAACP, and a man billed as a "community activist." The debate had no discernible format or structure, and seemed to focus entirely on North Omaha's local issues. It didn't seem to register with the questioners that this was not a debate for a seat on the City Council. Members of Congress should be aware of local concerns and issues, but the bottom line is that they are running to be our federal representative. I would have liked to hear more questions about the war in Iraq, federal tax policy, the economy...you know, something relevant.
To the extent that I got anything out of the debate, I guess I found Richard Carter more impressive than Jim Esch. Carter is an Iraq and Afghanistan War veteran with further experience in business. He seems like the kind of Democrat that could win in Nebraska. I guess my problem with Esch is just that he didn't win in '06. That was a change election, Lee Terry was weak, and Esch ran a Republican-lite style campaign. He should have won.
In a year with a presidential election at the top of the ballot, I think it will be harder for the Dem to win this time around in a state like Nebraska. Straight ticket voting is more prevalent in presidential years. For 2008, we will need a stronger candidate - one that will do more to distinguish himself from his opponent, and one that will take the fight to the Republicans. Esch didn't do that in 2006.
That said, no matter who wins the Democratic nomination on May 13, they will get my vote. I want the House to have the highest possible margin for the Dems. I just wish the debate would not have been such an amateur hour.