It’s after midnight, so I’ll just make a few comments about the Judd/Ruyle/Woolsey debate held earlier at the Santa Rosa City Council Chambers..
It was standing room only, but few of the attendees came out for either Rep. Woolsey or Mr. Ruyle (who, it is fair to note, received exactly 185 votes in the June primary). Since the seating was first come first served, there was nothing standing in the way of additional Lynn Woolsey supporters coming to watch. But perhaps the discrepancy in numbers of who turned out for Jim Judd and for Lynn Woolsey has something to do the kind of election year it is. Many Democrats may just not feel particularly energized to support their incumbent politicians. And actually, one can make the same case for Republicans who in Alaska, Delaware, and other states have dismissed establishment Republicans and chosen newcomers.
Jim Judd is a newcomer to politics too. So, naturally it was interesting to see him square off with Woolsey, with her eighteen years in Congress (Ruyle has run for Congress before, but in the 10th California Congressional District, not our 6th).
How did Mr. Judd do? He was in command of himself and his message. Not every single answer was all it could have been, but he succeeded in communicating something meaningful about himself and his motivation for running. He made clear that jobs, the economy, and uncontrolled government spending were his main reasons for running. He told the audience that his campaign isn’t financially beholden to corporate PACs, unions, lobbyists, or even the organized Republican party. He intends to represent the people themselves, and will be accessible to those who wants to speak with him. During tough times his business had to cut expenses, but to save jobs, Mr. Judd demonstrated real leadership by taking no pay himself for a while so he could keep others on the payroll. He spoke very forthrightly about our country’s need to stop spending trillions. With regard to Afghanistan he thought the president’s surge should play out, but he did not support an indefinite stay. He supported the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution (the right to bear arms) more firmly than his opponents. Becoming energy independent as soon as possible — utilizing solar, wind, natural gas, coal, and nuclear power sources — received his endorsement. In short, Mr. Judd proved himself a candidate with solid political positions who has an independent mind and the drive to run for public office at a time when the current Congress has the approval of only 11% of us. He pointed out that the power to make choices should first lie with the individual, then the family, the municipality, the state, and finally the federal government. But, he said, this has been turned on its head and now the federal government has much more power over us than was ever in the U.S. Constitution. Yes, it has been turned on its head, and Jim Judd sounds like someone who can help us turn that around again.
Lynn Woolsey’s statements made it clear that she is fully in concert with the idea that power should be concentrated in the federal government first. She is for a Nanny State (my words, not hers). However, interestingly she emphasized in both her opening and closing statements that she “knew” she worked for us, her constituents. We were her bosses, she said. Hm. Politicians say a lot of things at election time that they soon forget after they’ve safely won another term (personally, I would cite Senator John McCain as one of those this year, but that’s just me) — I think Lynn Woolsey’s actions speak louder than her words, and I know from personal experience that she is not accessible to us regular folks, and she isn’t interested in our views unless they just happen to coincide with her own.
Of course, the subject of her voting for a raise (‘cost of living” adjustment, she instructed us, not a raise) did come up. She proceeded to tell us how difficult it is to have two houses, two cars, two wardrobes — one for Petaluma and one for Washington D.C. Golly. To have “troubles” like that.
One of my greatest annoyances with Rep. Woolsey’s comments came when she repeatedly said that if a public option were added to ObamaCare, it would reduce the deficit by $68 billion. If you’ve read my posts about this matter, you already know that she is seriously mistaken. She also said, with a straight face, that single payor was needed to foster more competition among health care providers. That received a scornful reaction from the audience (which generally abided by the rule barring demonstrations of approval or disapproval such as, respectively, clapping or catcalls). The incumbent just does not understand economic interactions, and she proved it with such declarations. By the way, Mr. Judd said we should start over on health care reform, and noted that costs, interstate competition, and tort reform — all elements of constructive health care reform — have not been incorporated into the current legislation.
Lynn Woolsey again repeated her belief that Social Security does not contribute to the deficit! She is absolutely wrong about that. Mr. Judd told her that he simply did not believe that, but did not explore the issue in any detail (neither did Lynn Woolsey — she just made a statement and expected us to swallow it like mindless pawns).
And what about the Peace and Freedom candidate? Mr. Ruyle was an articulate, but limited speaker. Limited in the sense that he was there to educate the audience about his party and so he repeated the same platform planks a number of times. Mr. Ruyle is an avowed Socialist. He says so. He didn’t say he was a Marxist, but he is. Since Jim Judd believes in the marketplace, he and Mr. Ruyle had little in common (well, they both don’t want drilling for oil off our coast, but otherwise not much in common). Lynn Woolsey and Eugene Ruyle are as one on the public option, and on a few other issues too. The incumbent bobbed her head in agreement a number of times while Mr. Ruyle spoke.
After the debate, as people milled excitedly and happily on the Chamber floor, Lynn Woolsey retreated to a back wall with a single individual (perhaps an aide, but don’t quote me on that) for some minutes. Finally a few people approached her and spoke with her. Soon after she quietly took some stairs down and left the hall completely. I did see a group of three or four of her supporters (they were wearing identifying campaign paraphernalia) talking near where I was standing. I didn’t hear their conversation, but I got the impression that their enthusiasm was dampened. Whether they were let down by the incumbent’s average performance or by the few in the Lynn Woolsey camp who came to the debate, I can’t guess. Either or both is plausible. I’d like to think they know that their candidate is vulnerable this year. She is.
Okay, I ended up writing more than I expected to. Hope those who couldn’t attend and haven’t seen the debate yet on TV or online will want to see it now. Check out for yourselves exactly what the candidates said and how they comported themselves.