Tonight, the Democratic candidates for Oregon's 1st - Brad Avakian, Suzanne Bonamici, and Brad Witt - had their only televised debate of the race. If you didn't get a chance to watch it, I strongly encourage to dive in - at least for a few minutes.
The Oregonian's Harry Esteve opened his recap thusly:
Anyone looking for clear differences among the three Democratic candidates in the race to replace former Oregon Rep. David Wu probably came away disappointed after Tuesday's televised debate.
Brad Witt, Brad Avakian and Suzanne Bonamici largely -- if not completely -- agreed on nearly every issue that came up during the hour-long questioning...
Sorry, but that's complete nonsense.
It seems that the top of Esteve's article hasn't read the bottom of Esteve's article, because near the bottom he notes clear differences on charter schools and marijuana legalization:
Bonamici and Avakian agreed that charter schools suck resources away from public schools and aren't accessible to all. Witt, however, said charter schools in his district "provide critical education to students who would be absolutely lost" without them.
Asked about the federal government stepping in on state medical marijuana laws, Witt said he would seek to decriminalize pot and tax it as a way to bring more revenue for government programs. Avakian said states should be granted autonomy to set their own marijuana laws. Bonamici argued that medical marijuana is an issue for voters to decide, but said she would push for legalization of industrial hemp.
In his report, KGW's Frank Mungeam saw other distinctions, starting with trade:
Rep. Brad Witt said he would push to renegotiate every one of the major free trade agreements, saying they failed to address the needs of U.S. workers. Sen. Bonamici said she would evaluate any trade agreement based on how it affected 1st District workers: "If a trade agreement will brings jobs to the 1st District, it's a good trade agreement. If it doesn't, I won't support it."
Though Mungeam didn't quote him, Avakian once again made his opposition unequivocal on free trade deals.
On the CRC:
The candidates also weighed in on the $3 billion Columbia River Crossing plan. All agreed the project was a priority, but they disagreed about where it ranked on the to-do list. "Our area is in desperate need for a better way to move commerce across the Interstate Bridge," said Witt in emphasizing his support. Both Bonamici and Avakian stressed that other roads and bridges also needed attention, at that the state needed an overhaul of its electrical grid.
On bringing the troops home from Afghanistan:
U.S. overseas military involvement drew some of the strongest statements from candidates. Rep. Witt said troops needed to be brought home in a way that would [not - sic] destabilize the countries we fought to liberate. Sen. Bonamici also said troops should be brought home "when it makes sense to withdraw them," adding that we needed to haev jobs here when we bring them home. However, Labor Commissionar Avakian took a strong stand, saying: "When I say I want the troops home, now...I do mean now." He later elaborated, noting U.S. troop involvement in Iraq, Afghanistand and Libya, that "we have got to get our troops home from the conflicts we have now before we go into another country."
And those are just the words of the candidates. I think there were clear differences in the candidates in style and tone. For now, I'll leave it to you to decide what you think of each candidate's performance.