Tuesday's Sun City candidate forum began with a little excitement for the senior crowd. Candidates in attendance included Republican Randy Graf, independent Jay Quick and Libertarian David Nolan. This particular debate was not one of the six accepted by Gabby Giffords, so she was not present. However, Russ Dove, Democrat Bill Johnson's former campaign manager, apparently felt the need to step in and fill the gap for Gabby, although I doubt that she approved of the proxy representation.
It's possible that Russ Dove saw Gabby's absence as an opportunity to steal a few votes from her when she was not looking. Unfortunately for Russ, the other candidates didn't feel the need to accommodate him as a write-in candidate and he was excused from the debate. Russ, a rather assuming man, made his feelings known as he stormed out of the building and released a variety of colorful expressions on his way.
The display certainly provided an entertaining entree for stories being developed by several journalists present including Voice of America.
As for the debate itself, the candidates were fairly diverse in their viewpoints with David Nolan appearing to be the most conservative at times and Jay Quick the most liberal. Nolan managed to capture the attention of most everyone in the room when he began his response to a question about Iraq by saying "we should bring them home now," followed shortly thereafter by, "We should shoot him [Saddam Hussein] and then bring our troops home."
Jay Quick appeared to struggle with a few questions admitting, at times, that he didn't know where he stood on the issue. Several statements were met with groans from the audience and he admitted that some of his positions were probably unpopular with the group, but they represented his honest opinions. David Nolan was strong in his presentation with clear, tough messages that often resonated with the audience. Randy Graf was solid in his delivery and received positive responses to his positions on the border and his support for privatizing a portion of Social Security. He tried several times to articulate the differences between his and Gabby's positions on issues expressing his disappointment—as did the other candidates—that she had decided not to attend.
Recognizing that Giffords may not feel she would gain anything from additional debates due to her lead in the polls, one would think that the seniors would be an excellent group to court in the campaign thereby justifying an exception. There were certainly enough present to meet her attendance requirement. And it would have been fun to have one more candidate's response to Russ Dove.