Oct 21, 2008

The Great Debates continue for those candidates flying solo

With just two weeks before the historic General Election, The Center for Michigan and Detroit Public TV are winding down their inaugural series of televised debates between Michigan House candidates dubbed "The Great Debates."

The series began last month with candidates squaring off in 30-minute, fixed-format debates taped at DPTV’s Detroit studios with a panel of state journalists moderating and asking the questions. The debates are being aired on PBS and available on line at the sponsor's web sites. It was hoped to feature all of the 110 contested House seats. They fell short of that goal, but the concept is a good one and can be called a success.

As the election approaches, the format has changed as some candidates declined to appear for various reasons, and the format has evolved into a panel discussion for those candidates whose opponent has decline for whatever reason.

The current debate airing features Livingston County Democrat Donna Anderson running for the open 66th District House seat. As you may know her opponent, Republican Bill Rogers, backed out of an earlier commitment. Anderson is accusing Rogers of ignoring voters and coasting on the fact that Livingston County is predominantly Republican and on his family name. His excuse is that that work commitments caused him to cancel, but that seems flimsily.

I understand that often the front runner prefers not to debate in order not to give their opponents any free publicity at their expense, but this does not seem to fit that bill. If U.S. Sen. Carl Levin can agree to debate a nobody like Jack Hoogendyk, then Rogers can surely carve out 30 minutes of his busy schedule to speak to voters. Plus, it's a public service.

Regardless, you can watch Anderson on line now appearing in a panel with Republican Sandra Eggers and Democrat Robert Murphy running for the open 36th District 36 seat that covers Romeo and Shelby Township.

Also on tap is a separate forum featuring Republican Neil DeBlois, Republican Edith Floyd, Republican Eric Lielbriedis and Democrat Mark Venie running for the open 44th District seat that covers parts of Highland, White Lake and Clarkston.

Next week will feature Democrat Rep. Tim Melton, D-Pontiac, Republican David MiCola and Republican Jason Balaska. That will air from 3-5 p.m. on Oct. 26 and online.

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