Vail Daily column: Forum follies
September 27, 2016
The Eagle County Republican Party has done its candidates, and county voters, a disservice by declining to send its candidates to an Oct. 6 candidate forum sponsored by the Vail Valley Partnership.
The roots of the dispute go back to early spring, but the condensed version is this: Local party officials held firm in a demand for two moderators for the event, while the valley-wide chamber's board held equally firmly to its position that a sole moderator would be sufficient.
As a result, it looks as if only one Republican candidate for local office — Bruce Carey, who's seeking the Fifth Judicial District Attorney's job — will attend.
The desire for multiple moderators is understandable, and another example of our nation's fouled-up national political dysfunction trickling down to the local level. Republicans have for several election cycles complained that moderators in presidential and vice-presidential debates tilted toward Democratic candidates. That position gained strength when CNN correspondent Candy Crowley took what many viewed as a step too far in "fact-checking" Republican Mitt Romney in his second debate against President Barack Obama in 2012.
Given that history at the national level, it's understandable to want moderators from both parties at candidate forums. On the other hand, while elections for state legislative seats often feature plenty of mud-slinging — almost always paid for by groups that have little actual interest in issues that might affect residents of a district — town and county elections usually don't have much partisan rancor.
It's natural to have difference of opinion about policy, but those ideas are influenced, not consumed, by broader party philosophies.
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Also understandable is the desire for some sort of rebuttal in case one candidate makes a claim that's inaccurate or untrue. It seems like that could be easily solved by allowing candidates to ask each other one question toward the end of a forum.
In the end, though, Carey seems to have the best attitude toward a single moderator, even if that moderator is biased toward his opponent. Carey is a former Boy Scout, and a former member of the U.S. Army. Both organizations stress one main theme: Be prepared.
As in sports, a referee's decisions don't usually mean the difference between a win and a loss. If the officials seem to be against you, then an athlete or candidate needs to be nimble enough to adjust and adapt.
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