At the end of the most-recent debate between Republican Rob McKenna and Democrat Jay Inslee, McKenna said something encouraging.
“This has been terrific,” he told an audience at Washington State University Vancouver. “We need more of these.”
So, does that mean there will be a debate between the 2012 finalists for governor in Tacoma? Invitations have been made and negotiations commenced for what would be the first debate in Tacoma since 1992. So far, however, the campaigns can’t agree on a date. Each blames the other.
Seattle usually gets a couple each election, a deserving honor for the state’s largest city and the center of the known universe. Spokane always host one. Vancouver, Yakima, Blaine, too, are regular stops on the circuit.
Wait, Blaine? As in almost-Canada Blaine? But not Tacoma?
There are 800,000 people in Pierce County and not all of the issues important to them will be covered by a Seattle debate. Local debates raise local topics. In Vancouver, the candidates were asked about a new Interstate 5 bridge across the Columbia River and the specter of coal trains traveling to Longview.
Yet, as of now, only two more debates have been agreed to – Yakima on Oct. 2 and Seattle on Oct. 16.
To fill the gap left by every finalist for governor since Ken Eikenberry and Mike Lowry, here is the 2012 Washington Gubernatorial Virtual Tacoma Debate.
Moderator: “I’d like to welcome everyone to the historic Pantages Theatre here in downtown Tacoma and would like to thank the candidates Jay Inslee and Rob McKenna for agreeing to be here. See guys, it wasn’t so hard, was it?
“Mr. McKenna, you won the pre-debate battle of rock, paper, scissors and opted to go first. You have 90 seconds.”
Moderator: “Thank you, Mr. McKenna. And let me remind the audience to hold your applause until the end. I know you won’t, but I have to say it. And now, Mr. Inslee, your opening statement.”
Moderator: “All right, thank you. We’ll now move into the questions proposed by residents of Pierce County. For this first question, we’ll begin with Mr. Inslee. International shipping is one of the anchors of the Puget Sound-area economy with the ports of Tacoma and Seattle ranked among the largest in the nation. Some have suggested that the ports stop competing with each other for customers and instead be consolidated into a single unit. What is your position on consolidation?”
Moderator: “Mr. McKenna?”
Moderator: “OK, I should remind the candidates that just because the rules say you have 90 seconds doesn’t mean you have to use all 90 of them.” (Laughter.)
“OK, next question. Both of you have made education a centerpiece of your campaigns. There is a high correlation between family wealth and student performance and many Pierce County districts have high poverty levels. Do you believe that demographics equal destiny or do you have remedies to reach children in poverty?”
Moderator: “And now Mr. Inslee.”
Moderator: “Thank you, gentlemen. The final question involves higher education. The state established five college campuses affiliated with the University of Washington and Washington State University in cities that were previously underserved by public higher education. One of those is in Tacoma. With budget pressures facing all of higher education, how would you support the continued growth of these five campuses?”
Moderator: “Gentlemen, we are nearly out of time so will now move to your closing statements. Mr. McKenna, you will go first.”
Moderator: “And, Mr. Inslee.”
Moderator: “That concludes the first gubernatorial debate here in Tacoma in two decades. Please thank our candidates. And thank you for watching and attending. Drive home safely, and I hope you fed the parking pay stations.”email@example.com 253-597-8657 blog.thenewstribune.com/politics @CallaghanPeter