John Cobarruvias reports on the Candidates Debate
Tom DeLay was quoted that debates usually had more candidates than constituents in attendance. This was clearly not the case at a debate sponsored by a High School Debate Club in Clear Lake, just south of Houston. Over 288 constituents attended, with standing room only. It was a debate crowd that DeLay couldn¹t miss without backlash from the community. So just 30 minutes before the debate he announced via a right wing radio show that he was coming.
Tom DeLay has never debated during his entire 20-year career. It required a group of high school kids, phone calls from the community, and a ton of bad publicity to bring DeLay to his debate knees. DeLay didn¹t even have the decency to advise the students of his last minute intentions. His staff continued to say that only a 'representative' would show up until the last minute. When he finally graced us with his presence, he used the back door for his entrance and exit without attending the meet and greet session with constituents. While the other candidates Richard Morrison, Thomas Morrison (more on him later), and Mike Fjetland, were shaking hands and meeting voters, Tom DeLay with his entourage of body guards and staff, entered in a back door and hid behind the curtain on the stage until the debate.
The debate was very well done. The moderator a 14-year old student created 5 questions on issues concerning the area, then took 6 questions from the audience screened by the debate club. The set up was very professional and except for a few obnoxious pomp-pomp carrying (yes pomp-pomp carrying) DeLay supporters with the big sponge fingers, (yes big sponge fingers) the event went off pretty much without a hitch. DeLay supporters numbering 30 or so,many who were paid staff, were their usual obnoxious, rude selves, pushing and grabbing signs after the debate on the stage, and causing at least one confrontation.
Hoots and Hollering
During the debate there were a times when the crowd groaned loudly in disbelief, laughed loudly, and even boo-ed LOUDLY at DeLay when he praised Bush for his leadership in taking us into Iraq and claiming our environment was better off because of him. The only other laughter was directed at Thomas Morrison for his comment about the air being cleaner now than it was 20 years ago. (More on him later)
Richard Morrison held his own and was never boo-ed, laughed at, or had any groans from the audience. Mike Fjetland (Independent) was very well spoken and at times took sharp jabs at Tom DeLay, who was sitting next to him. Thomas Morrison was another story.
Who is Thomas Morrison? It seems odd that at a time when Tom DeLay is considered to be vulnerable and a viable candidate named Richard Morrison (Libertarian) is running, another Morrison just so happens to enter the race. Thomas Morrison is an advocate for a flat tax or national sales tax, much like Tom DeLay. He was the director of Texans for Fair Tax, an organization that references Tom DeLay. Implying that Thomas Morrison is a plant by DeLay would be irresponsible, but it sure does seem odd especially since he has absolutely no chance of winning, doesn¹t have yard signs or even a website. It should make one wonder.
San Jacinto Rail
On specific issues DeLay was able to use the limited debate format to his advantage. He claimed he was working to find a solution to the proposed San Jacinto Rail, a rail to carry toxic explosive chemicals through the Clear Lake area. What he didn¹t say was that for 2 years he has done nothing but collect $51,000 from the rail company (BNSF) and told a citizen contingency that he didn¹t want to get involved after they pleaded for his help. The rail was opposed by the overwhelming majority of elected officials from the subdivisions to Congress, except for DeLay.
On education he claimed to support The No Child Left Behind Act, but failed to note that he refused to fully fund the measure. The moderator mentioned the lack of funding had affected his Debate Club, costing members an extra $50 for each debate function, one per week, as well as cuts to classes, bus service, and school teachers. Richard Morrison also pointed out that DeLay¹s redistricting strong-arming destroyed any political capital that could have been used for school finance reform much needed in Texas. And DeLay sidestepped the issue on the Social Security Fairness act affecting Texas teachers, which DeLay blocked even with wide bi-partisan support for the bill.
DeLay blamed the lack of an energy policy on the Democrats in the Senate, but failed to mention that the energy plan would have been accepted, had DeLay guarantees the lawsuit protection clause for Lyondell would not be placed back into the bill during committee. Lyondell has been involved in lawsuits for the contamination of water supplies due to a chemical called MTBE. Lyondell is also a member of the San Jacinto Rail Project. DeLay wanted lawsuit protection for Lyondell put into the bill. The Democrats and Republicans would not allow a vote on the bill because of it.
DeLay supported assault rifles while the others believe the ban should remain, but should be strengthened. DeLay was clear on his opposition to commuter rail diverting hundreds of millions of dollars to other cities,while Richard Morrison and Fjetland supported rail.
It was clear after this debate Tom DeLay is not well liked and has too much power for one Congressman especially when that power is directed against his own constituents. His disrespect for his constituents by announcing he would not participate in the debate is enough to throw him out of office, but his arrogance when dealing with the High School students was just disgusting. At the end of the debate I asked if those in attendance would consider a donation to the debate club to offset costs and cuts to the Debate Club. True to form, the self proclaimed most powerful man in Congress gave just $20.
el - Interesting Report - I believe the Libertarian did not support gun control measures.
Good News - Bad News For Richard Morrison
A recent poll has DeLay below the crucial 50% needed for election. The Bad News - only half know who the Democrat Richard Morrison is. You can help that.
Daily Kos had this to say: Club for Growth is now running ads for DeLay in the district. Club for Growth wouldn't be throwing money at this race if they weren't worried about DeLay's chances.
Remember when we first contributed to this race? Morrison was a nobody. My hope was to simply force DeLay to campaign more in the district, thus keeping him from campaigning and fundraising for other Republicans. Now Morrison is a serious candidate with a legitimate chance to win.
Kerry Pulling into the Lead
The Meta-Analysis of polls with undecideds assigned based on past elections now has Kerry winning 311 electoral votes. Without undecided assignment it is 267 for Kerry.