BLOG: Organizing a McKenna-Inslee debate? Good luck.

It’s exhausting to organize a gubernatorial debate between Republican Attorney General Rob McKenna and Democratic Congressman Jay Inslee. Why?

One candidate doesn’t like debates. The other doesn’t care to sit together with his opponent.

It takes roughly three months for one organization to negotiate between the two candidates. The candidates finally met on June 25 at the Westin Hotel for the Seattle Rotary Club’s luncheon. The room was packed.

The purpose of the debate was to show if the candidates recognize the challenges and priorities lying ahead and whether they’re able to articulate their vision. Even though the format changed to a 15-minute conversation between the moderator and each candidate, the differences between the candidates were obvious.

Which candidate did not favor a debate? Inslee. Meanwhile, McKenna didn’t want to sit at the same table with Inslee. Because Inslee was against having a debate, he had to go first. This gave McKenna an advantage. The moderator gave slightly different questions dealing with critical issues of the state, including education, health care, and transportation, among other topics.

You might think there was no clear winner with the question-and-answer session. Well, there was, according to some audience members, depending on whether you are a Democrat or Republican. The independents are more diplomatic. One stated, “We are fortunate to have two fine candidates.” (end)

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Photos on flickr