It was the best of times.
It was the worst of times.
It was the Wisconsin Democratic Primary debate just days before voters head to the polls to elect the person who will challenge Scott Walker in the recall election.
I like and very much admire Kathleen Falk, but whomever has been advising her on how best to respond with full thematic and meaningful answers to questions has not done the campaign any favors.
On Friday night there was a great question about what steps each of the candidates would take once elected, and leading up to being sworn into office.
For the umpteenth time Kathleen Falk spoke about her 14 years of experience in Dane County, and how she negotiated and helped to create jobs. Yes, Falk has a very impressive background, and it is one reason I am going to vote for her in the primary.
But it seems to me after having watched a couple of the debates, and followed the press reports rather closely that Falk has a few paragraphs of talking points that gets presented over and over.
With all due respect I am tired of them. I think most voters are too.
Anyone who watched the debate on Friday night must have wondered where the answer was once Falk finished telling everyone she was an elected woman from Dane County, but missed a golden opportunity to respond to the steps that comes after being elected. There were enough words to fill the minute alloted to her for an answer, but nothing that would have made a voter feel any reason to pull the lever for her.
And that to me is sad. Falk is most capable, and yet she seems tied to some sentences in a campaign script that make her look empty of other thoughts. If that is her way of introducing herself to voters I have to question the other options that were left on the cutting room floor.
She might have spoken about bridging the divide with meetings and coffee with legislators from both sides of the aisle, or forming a working group to start dealing with needed issues such as a venture capital bill, or mining legislation. Granted, the last one has political risks associated with it, but hopefully in June we are going to elect a leader and not just a governor.
But Falk seemed too interested in those talking points question after question. And it left me feeling too much time was squandered.
Meanwhile Kathleen Vinehout sent one response sailing over the walls of the ballpark when she looked into the eyes of the questioner and the audience at home and spoke about the need to make sure laws are followed, and the process of government treated with respect.
I clapped my hands, put my hand on James’ shoulder, and told him that is what Wisconsin needs to hear.
Debates, and I can hardly stand that term for the event that was on television tonight, should be robust exchanges that move the dialogue forward.
What was presented instead was a series of statements and remarks that have been given multiple times so that the other candidates know what is coming, and how they will then respond.
In the end Tom Barrett won the debate, and is on his way to winning the primary come Tuesday.