The Cab referring to the location of tonight’s U.S. Senate primary debate at the Cab Calloway School of the Arts in Wilmington. The debate will feature one Republican candidate, Gene Truono, who will be questioned alone starting at 7 pm (His Republican primary opponent, Rob Arlett, had more important things to do tonight). And then at 7:30 pm we get the face off between U.S. Senator Tom Carper (D) and his progressive primary challenger, Kerri Evelyn Harris.
And as a special intrablog and intraparty treat, we have my friend and former blog colleague Jason330 in attendance, graciously offering us his reporting via texts to me, which I will then publish verbatim here below.
I will offer my running commentary and insert Jason’s photos and commentary as well:
Jason: Lee Murphy R running for Congress working the crowd. 25 minutes until Gene Trouno takes the state alone.
Jason: Kerri seems loose talking to supporters in the crowd.
Jason is in the media section next to Ryan Grim of the Intercept and Dave Weigel of the Washington Post. This will keep his heckling to a minimum, he says.
Matthew Albright is introducing the panelists and the format. The Truono portion is beginning now.
Truono is going after Arlett from the start, for not paying his taxes, from siding with the developers in Sussex County and for not showing up tonight.
He accidentally gets a big applause line for mentioning Medicare for All, but those turns to boos and hisses after he says he opposes it.
He supports the Kavannaugh Supreme Court nomination. Says he deserves a hearing and an up or down vote. He says Senators have a duty to advise and consent to the President’s nomination. I wonder if he believed that with respect to Merrick Garland.
He supports the Trump Tax Cuts.
He opposed the Children Separation policy at the border. He opposes some of Trump’s gun measures, but there is no follow up or clarity here.
Jason says Truono is a down the line wingnut. Tax cuts work. Free market college. Guns are not a problem.
Says he is anti-choice. Supports 20 week abortion ban. Opposes minimum wage increase. Supports Citizens United. Supports Trump’s tariffs. Supports NFL players right to protest.
Again mentions retiring early to take care of his elderly and ill mother was the best thing he ever did. I think it is wonderful he had the means to do that as a rich man, but not everyone can do that.
The Truono section is over.
Kerri and Tom take the stage.
Lots of cheering for the candidates, though I suspect its a pro-Kerri crowd.
Kerri goes first, and gives a great testimonial about the struggles a single mom struggling to make ends meet. She is running to make a change now. An excellent start by her.
Tom Carper starts with a boring thank you to everyone. He goes through his own life story, I suppose to match Kerri’s story of struggle. Talks of his own military service. He does not speak way. He speaks of his successes as Governors in cutting taxes. Not sure that will play well in a Democratic primary electorate.
Now talks up his opposition to Obamacare repeal. Opposing Scott Pruitt. Opposing Trump.
Runs over his time and talks over Albright for a full 30 seconds.
Gets first question. Asks if the question is for him, then needs to be reminded how long he has to answer. Roth moment? The question is on healthcare and how to lower costs and expand coverage.
Very bad answer. Stumbled, seemed confused, spoke fast.
Kerri says 80-90 percent have healthcare insurance but we cannot afford to use it due to high deductibles. She commends Carper on passing Obamacare and defending it. Says it was a good starting point but we need more.
Next question is on college debt, and Kerri says it is a burden. She says there needs to be a debt bailout of college debt to spur the economy.
Carper says he does not have a magic wand to do that, and that it would cost a pretty penny. He keeps licking his lips and it sounds bad on the livestream. He talks about increasing pell grants and Delaware State University.
Kerri says she appreciates the things he has done but she is concerned about the future. She says we had a magic wand to bail out the banks and to start wars.
Tom Carper gets his line of the night when asked what we can do to break the gridlock over immigration in Congress and he shouts: the best thing we can do is change Presidents, change majorities in Congress, and to follow the famous Matthew bible verse about clothing and feeding the needy. Then talks about fixing the problems down in Central America to fight the poverty and violence there. Good answer by him.
Kerri says she agrees with the Senator but it goes deeper. Says she wants to abolish ICE. Strong pro-immigrant answer.
Kerri says we have the equation wrong. She says if the middle class does well, then everyone does well. She says that it does not work to focus on corporations and businesses with the expectation that success will trickle down to the middle class.
Carper talks up his support of the Dodd-Frank regulations and gives a history of the lead up to the Great Recession. Says the banks did not get off scott free. One person clapped.
Kerri responds about Carper’s vote to repeal some Dodd-Frank regulation on banks. Carper walked into that one.
Question on trade and whether it is fair. Carper gives a good answer attacking Trump and his trade policies. Says we need fair trade and we need to fight China, but we should not be attacking our trading allies in Canada, Mexico and Europe.
Kerri says we both agree that Donald Trump makes us all unsafe in weakening our alliances and our trade dependent economy. Trade needs to be fair for the American worker and that we are creating jobs rather than exporting jobs.
Question on who they would like to see appointed to the Supreme Court. Kerri opposed Kavannaugh. We have a president currently under investigation and should not be permitted to appoint anyone until that investigation is over.
Carper says he has a great name for Trump to appoint: Merrick Garland. Gets a good cheer. Says he is a big believer in the Golden Rule and that Garland was treated like dirt (implying Kavannaugh must be treated like dirt). Inexplicably says he voted for Kavannaugh back in 2006, but says Biden and Obama did too. Then says fool me once, shame on him, but there will be no fool me twice. Carper here, in imitating Bush, staggers and stumbles like Bush did. Poor answer.
Kerri turns the experience question on its head. She says there is room in the Senate for more experience, like the experience of a struggling working mom or a mechanic. Excellent answer. Carper gives a weird answer about his experience where he challenges anyone to match his workout routine.
Kerri says she is running for you. She has pledged to not take any PAC or corporate money ever because the voter needs to know she is there for you. The perception of corporate donations alone is reason enough not to take their donations.
On the environment, she says we need to create a Green New Deal where we are creating jobs in sustainable energy. She is against all drilling and fracking. We are the lowest lying state in the union and we are in danger of climate change. We need drilling bans everywhere. Attacks Carper’s yes vote on the Keystone pipeline and yes vote on Rick Perry
Carper would reimpose the regulations on car emissions and coal plants, more tax credits for windmills and not oil wells. More electric charging stations and electric cars.
Carper also retorts, after nearly 15 seconds of dead air (and that has happened alot during this debate), that while he and Kerri agree on a lot, he has done it and she hasn’t and thus he needs to be reelected. Odd argument. This is a very bad debate performance by Carper. His age, his horrible slurred speaking style, the staggering and stumbling answers, makes him sound senile. As Weigel says above, Kerri is a great and passionate speaker and the comparison is not favorable for Carper.
Question about whether there is a thing Trump has done that they agree with: Kerri says he has woken us up, getting more and more people involved. Carper says Trump has brought unity to the Democratic party (some laughs at that) and then he thanks Trump for appointing Colm Connolly and Mary Noriega to be judges in the District of Delaware. Wow. Thanking Trump for his judicial nominations. Wow. Unbelievable. Is he dumb? Carper has lost all his political instincts. He is out of touch with the Democratic voter.
Jason: The Carper supporters are straining to clap. He gets loud to add emphasis but it comes off as grumpy. Terrible job he is doing. He seems to be fighting with himself over responses.
Kerri challenges Carper to pass Warrens’ Opioid Care Act. He gives some legislativelese answer about how the bill is not good enough and does not authorize money. Kerri challenges him to use his supposed power he brags about to get it funded. Great exchange.
Carper says Roe v. Wade is settled law.
Kerri says that as a women she doesn’t feel like the law is settled because we are sitting here debating her freedom.
And the livestream went dead because the News Journal was stupid enough to put a time limit on their livestream. Debate was supposed to end at 8:30 and so the livestream ended. So I didn’t get to hear the final answers and closing arguments. I will pass along Jason’s comments about that.
But my impression is that Kerri won this debate hands down. Grand slam. She met all expectations and exceeded them. She was not nervous, or at least did not appear so. She gave clear and passionate answers and trapped Carper into some great gotcha moments. Carper, like I have been saying, had a horrible debate. I am now genuinely concerned that if he is nominated he might lose to either Truono or Arlett. He seems that confused and well, old. He needed to retire and he ignored that advice and now we might be all worse off for it if we Democrats do not retire him ourselves. Vote Kerri.