Monday, July 31, 2006

Georgia Debates: Round I - Hecht vs Martin

20 minutes until start: And we start of the evening of live blogging. First up is the Democrat Lt. Gov. race in Georgia. What started out as a quiet battle between veteran politicians turned ugly in the final weeks of the primary. The question of the night is will Hecht once again come out swinging or show contrition for the negativity that may have cost him votes. We will see shortly.

7:00 - The candidates are ready to go and we are off. Morse Diggs is the moderator. Format is questions from the panel first. Then candidates question each other.

7:03 - First question to Martin is about the infamous Hecht "rape flier". Did Martin actually say women should have known better. Martin says it's outrageous. He worked with the rape centers and counselors to define rape. It's already getting into the stuff!

7:04 - Hecht is questioned about the negative campaigning. Hecht claims he offered to be Martin's campaign manager and wanted to compare platforms! He says Martin started negative first. This is going to be no holds barred. There is no contrition here. Hecht admits one quote was inaccurate but the large portion was correct. He goes right at Martin. Martin now defends his record as DHR head.

7:06 - Hecht asked about a vote to give legislators about a pay raise, why Martin voted for it and would it hurt the ticket. Hecht brings up Cagle voted against is which is weird. Martin talks about his refusing a raise as DHR head. Snipe snipe snipe.

7:08 - Martin gets in how he is a budget cutter and then ask about a revenue shortfall reserve. Hecht starts talking about drug giveaways of something. snnnnnnore. Martin is trying to pin him down on a number and is sounding boringly wonkish. Hecht is attack attack attack. Interesting.

7:10 - Hecht is attacking Martin's voting record again. Martin was the one person voting against making dealing drugs near a school a felony. Martin talks about his daughter, mentions that it would have probably had problems with the court. That was probably the right answer but its weak.

7:11 - Martin ask Jim to pledge to end negative campaigning. Hecht goes over a litany of alledged Martin negative attacks. Hecht is really going after Martin and Martin is looking a bit like a punching bag.

7:12 - Martin asked about how effective can he be with a Republican majority. Martin says you need experience and he has it. Points out that Democrats are still different. After the last 10 minutes this is a bit of a let down in fervor.

7:13 - Question about cutting behind doors deals with private business. This is a softball. They both believe in open government. Shocking.

7:14 - Martin asked about Miles endorsement of Hecht. He will continue to work hard. We are into a whirlpool of pol speech now. Martin is even referring to himself in the third person!

7:15 - Hecht is asked why the Lt Gov of Georgia should be fighting national oil companies. Pretty vague answer but at least mentions biofuels.

7:17 - Give the reporter credit, he asks a follow up basically by saying you have no powers including no subpoena power so how would that work? Hecht says he will embarass them into coming or show the empty seats. It is a weird issue for a Lt Gov race.

7:19 - Hecht is asked about facing Cagle instead of Reed. Hecht actually complements both him and Martin and their experience. Either would help the ticket. But of course his platform is better. Martin accuses Hecht of running a Republican type campaign in the primary. BOOYAH! Now that was a shot!

7:20 - Martin asked about HOPE scholarship. He takes his cues from Mark Taylor. They are really ticket tying.

7:21 - Martin asked about funding for improving education. Once again, a very important question which gets vague answers. But Martin accuses Republicans of raising property taxes. That's a pretty good zinger.

7:22 - They are both asked again how they could possibly get anything done with Republicans which leads to both rolling out their campaign points. How many different ways can you ask the same question? Surely the reporters can fill up half an hour.

7:23 - Hecht asked should immigration be dealt with at a state level. Employers that break the law should be punished. But kids needing medical care should be able to get it. Martin says practically the same thing but says it really has to be at the federal level.

Not going to summarize the closing comments. Back in a moment with final thoughts.

Final Thoughts: It was a lively one. It definitely whet my appetite for the upcoming main event. It was interesting that Hecht came out attacking. He did apologize for one misquote but steadfastly defended the rest of his actions. He was definitely taking the underdog approach of attack, attack. And to a degree I think it worked. Martin seemed defensive and wonkish. He looked like an older, dyed in the wool pol while Hecht looked like the fresh voice. I give the edge in this debate to Hecht. Next tuesday? My prediction is it will be too close to call.

Now on to the main event.

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