Thursday night, in front of about 50 people at the Kissimmee Utility Authority, Attorney/Author Todd Long, School Board Member/War Vet Julius Melendez, and Businessman Mark Oxner kicked off this year’s Congressional Debate Season.
The debate was at time tense, as the three candidates faced off on the economy, education, and immigration. All questions came from the bi-partisan audience while each candidate shared the same general platform. They didn’t hesitate taking jabs at each other in making their case, that they should be the Republican to take on former Congressman Alan Grayson, in the newly drawn Hispanic leaning district.
Let’s breakdown each candidate’s performance.
Mr. Melendez came out swinging last night. He delivered his message effectively and pointed out solutions such as, consolidating redundant services on the federal level and stating that everyone is pro-legal immigration. He spoke about his experiences on the school board and his personal history that saw him take the hard route through community college, UCF, then the military.
He also took a few shots at his rival Todd Long and there were sound bytes.
“I don’t make all of the money that Todd does”
“Todd, district 9 is different from district 8 but you wouldn’t know that because you don’t live in district 9″
“Osceola County has always been the stepchild to Orange County, I want to be the first Congressman from Osceola County
He did catch a snag over a question concerning conflict of interest with House Representatives owning stock in businesses regulated by the government but, moved on quickly.
He was the aggressor last night but, still got his points across. His jabs at Long were unprovoked but Alan Grayson attacks unprovoked all of the time (more on that later).
If nominated, could this candidate deliver the debate fireworks the media never got in 2010?
This isn’t Long’s first rodeo. He defended himself against Melendez’s attacks and pushed his constitutional conservative values that have made him an anti-establishment favorite over the last few years.
He concentrated on the Democrats in Washington and Obamacare. He pointed out that immigration laws like the one in Arizona won’t work if they’re not enforced, and he promoted E-verify. He talked about term limits that would reduce the damge ineffective law makers do. He didn’t exclude his own party, pointing out that both sides were responsible for the mess in Washington, and would use the examples of the founding fathers and constitution to guide him if elected.
He did promote 999 and some of Herman Cain’s talking points. Cain did endorse him and campaigned for Long last week but, 999 never had the chance to be thoroughly vetted. If he’s going to push an alternative to the tax code, then he should stick to the Fair Tax or other reform measures.
Long runs strong campaigns, he’ll be there till the end.
Businessman Mark Oxner did fine last night. He steered clear of the Melendez-Long exchanges and came across likeable with some good ideas.
He talked about cutting Congressional pensions and benefits (try finding a voter that would fight that),he brought up that the way to win over independents and minorities are to talk about the energy and education challenges facing the country, and he used his family as an example of how legal immigration can work.
Oxner currently lacks name ID and is at the back of the pack at this point. However, if he can raise money, that could change.
One big question from last night was, Where was John “Q” Quinones?
The Osceola County Board Chairman and former State Representative did not attend last night’s debate and had no presence there. There could be a couple of explanations. He has been running for less than a month. Perhaps, his campaign infrastructure is still taking shape. Is there a strategical reason? In 2010, Grayson foe, Daniel Webster only debated a couple of times during the primary, and didn’t debate at all in the general election en route to his easy victory over Grayson. Critics might question Quinones familiarity with national issues but it’s too early to tell.
The likely Democratic nominee Alan Grayson did make his presence felt last night. He released an email blast with a nasty Herman Cain message. Grayson called Cain a “failure at pizza” and the tone of the email implied Long being his biggest competitor at this point.
An eventful night that effected all of the campaigns involved. The three that participated in last night’s debate, even and some that didn’t