I am not sure why Bay News 9 felt that a debate on a Saturday evening was a good idea, but I happened to be home so I watched.
First, in the interest of disclosure, I am a Republican — so I may not have the most objective perspective on this debate.
However, I would say this: Rod Smith did well, probably “won” the debate with a style that was friendlier and more composed. Jim Davis sounded like an angry man who will try to bully the Republican legislature.
Both men were able to hit the hot button issues for Democrats: off shore drilling, education ‘reform’, Medicaid changes, felon voting rights, etc. Platitudes were met with applause, as would be expected.
On the issues, there is very little difference between these two Democrats. But then, this wasn’t really a debate about the issues… it was a debate about how each man would approach his role as governor.
In that respect, I think Senator Smith won. His answers seemed to be more pragmatic than ideological. He sounds not only able, but willing to reach out to Republicans to work on solutions. Davis sounded like he would use his position as governor to build public support for his issues and use that as leverage to move the legislature. Keep dreaming.
I think I could live with Smith as governor – maybe more so than Gallagher. Maybe. And I don’t think I am alone in that respect. A Rod Smith nomination should scare Republicans — at least make sure that the Republican candidate has to work that much harder.
For those who didn’t get the chance to see the debate, and if you live in the Tampa Bay area, I believe it will be available on Bright House Networks’ Tampa Bay on Demand service (channel 340). I could be wrong, but Bay News 9 has their most recent Political Connections interviews viewable there.