As candidate forums go, tonight’s CBS 11 and Alaska Dispatch News Debate between Republican U.S. Senate hopefuls Joe Miller, Dan Sullivan and Lt. Governor Mead Treadwell was instructive.
All men are proficient orators and skilled in rational based thinking and analysis. The majority of their answers were similar, so there is not really a true “stand out” in the bunch for policy direction. They all looked nice and no awkward facial expressions or body gestures fouled the play.
Joe Miller remains the strongest debater in terms of Tea Party flavored sound bites and grandiosity. He is sharp and witty with one-liners, and the ability to answer questions in volumes. The worry remains if he is a consensus builder or so dogmatic and zealous in his own philosophy that he’ll neglect the 750,000+ people in Alaska he would ultimately represent.
Dan Sullivan, though at times scoring with comprehensive answers and examples, lacked crisp, concise responses. He appeared uncomfortable formulating comments – and those he did muster to completely offer lacked in depth (or were laden in “ums” and paper shuffling). Sullivan, as in the last rural debate, simply does not answer questions as assiduously as Miller or Treadwell, speaking more in generality.
It should be noted that Alaska Dispatch News’ Nat Herz kept Sullivan in check on three occasions when avoiding answering questions, and news anchor Joe Vigil was exceptional in keeping the candidates reigned in from completely disrespecting time lines and end points.
Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell, after the rhetoric dust settled, was the winner on multiple fronts tonight. Here’s why:
- Treadwell gave the most cogent, concise and responsive answers.
- Treadwell was the most thoughtful and responsible in staying focused on questions and not straying into the periphery with diatribes (Miller) or answering with a question to evade an answer (Sullivan).
- Treadwell was honest when it came to tough questions like admitting smoking marijuana, writing Lisa Murkowski on his ballot in the 2010 General Election, and agreeing to support either Republican challenger should the others win the Primary on August 19th.
- Treadwell was fresh – he didn’t repeat the canned quotes and familial backgrounds that his opponents have used in past forums, and for which he would score the most points if he tried such debate tactic – having lost his wife to cancer and raising his kids as a single parent.
- Treadwell was the most courteous in his questions and looked the most senatorial. All men claim to be the best David and against the Begich Goliath. Treadwell appears to fit best in those shoes (OK – sandals to be exact).
Only Alaskan voters can decide who will be the Republican U.S. Senate candidate to challenge Democratic incumbent Senator Mark Begich in November, but if tonight’s debate is any indication, Mead Treadwell looks to have the best chance at the title.