"Moderating" the 6th District Debate

I don't know if I moderated or liberalized the debate in Asheboro tonight, but at least I can say I didn't 'conserve' it.

I bought a stopwatch at the mall and was at our new 2008 Randolph County Democratic Party HQ at 6:15. Our people already had the sound system set up, and the candidates all three arrived by 6:45 for a 7PM start. We 'drew straws' for the starting and ending statement order.

It was drizzly and cold and by 7 about 20 people had arrived-- but only one of our journalists. J.D. Walker of the Asheboro Courier-Tribune was ready to go with her questions-- but we were missing the reporter from the Pilot of Southern Pines. Wayne Abraham, the Chair of the 6th Congressional District committee, assured me that a John Chappell of the Pilot would be here, because he and Wayne had had a lengthy phone conversation. We waited ten minutes, but then I went ahead and started, because J.D. had a 9:30 copy deadline, and we needed to get started. I hoped that the Pilot reporter would turn up, wet and late, but he never did.

To compensate I gave the candidates (Teresa Sue Bratton, Johnny Carter and Jay Ovittore) 2 minutes to answer questions instead of 90 seconds (actually 90 seconds was usually plenty); I also solicited more questions from the audience (we ended up using about 6 of them); and I also let the candidates ask each other a couple of clarifying questions, in addition to allowing rebuttal time at several points when the candidates focussed on one another's statements or record. This all unfolded surprisingly (to yours truly) well; I especially liked the audience questions (a couple I allowed the writer to explain in person to the candidate, which worked great to clarify a question on employee choice and collective bargaining). And the candidates were good about maintaining a professional tone, even in their follow-ups and rebuttals.

I must say that, once I got it started and everyone got familiar with the process, it became fun. It felt kind of like refereeing a tennis match. 'Your serve, Dr. Bratton;' 'Ball's in your court, Mr. Ovittore,' 'Nice save Mr. Carter,' etc. Until that point, though, I was a nervous wreck, trying to make sure everything came together. You all ought to try it sometime- like, 'here's some silk and thread, now jump out of this airplane and sew yourself a parachute on the way down. You be careful!' Yeah, right!

I tried taking pictures, but once it started I was too busy directing traffic and keeping time and reading through audience questions and trying to remember what to do next to take any more. So what I'm posting are all before and after shots. Sorry. And it's taken me a while to learn how to juggle this- first photos on my BlueNC blog!

I will post the link to JD's story tomorrow, and Jordan of Yes! Weekly in Greensboro was there doing lots of interviews (he'll be a questioner next week at the last debate, to be held Friday April 11th at 7 p.m. at the Paramount Theater, 128 East Front Street, Burlington) so I'm sure we'll see something from him one day. And Jay Ovittore told me that tomorrow they will be editing the video from tonight and from the first debate, and will post stuff on Youtube. So there should be a lot of good information out there soon.

Think Katie Couric needs some help with Obama and Clinton later this month?
I'm ready for my close-up now!

Comments

Great Report Mac! Thanks!

I'm really disappointed that Chappelle didn't show. To my knowledge, there was no breaking news that kept him chained to a chair in Moore County, but you never know. I guess I'll have to put pressure on Bouser to send someone to the Burlington debate.

It's really too bad we couldn't arrange one of these debates in Moore Co. I could get a room filled, and I could even get a moderator. I guess I just can't guarantee press coverage!

Oh - and those pictures are great! I actually recognize some of the faces from other district meetings. That's exciting to me! I wish we had more district meetings, to be honest, so that we could better work on helping Mr. Coble retire.

Be the change you wish to see in the world. --Gandhi
Pointing at Naked Emperors

We had about 25 people, plus us on the panel

which wasn't nearly what I wanted, given how many email blasts we sent out. But the weather definitely scared away most of our older Democrats. The crowd was about the same, actually, that Wayne says they had at Guilford College.

The day was crazy, writing up the script, getting the HQ ready, running around and spending a lot of time on vital stuff like fixing the heat (I'd been hoping we wouldn't need heat, but cold and rainy made it inescapable). Now that I've had a chance to eat something and recover a bit, I feel really good about everything BUT the crowd. I think the off-the-cuff audience participation was worth more than another reporter asking the usual questions.

We really ought to have more/ better district meetings. We need to organize for the obvious future-- within 3 years we'll have new boundaries somehow- everything will change to add the new 14th district. Randolph and Moore counties will continue to be the tail on some gerrymandered District's donkey unless we do something about it.

I would have been there except for the spousal birthday

We need to have stronger county to county communications. If I didn't hang out online I wouldn't have known about these debates. I still may try to go up to Burlington next Friday.

Be the change you wish to see in the world. --Gandhi
Pointing at Naked Emperors

Cool!

That sounds like it was a great experience! Thanks for sharing it.
J. Levi Knapp

A great many people think they are thinking when they are really rearranging their prejudices.
William James (1842 - 1910)

Levi

Go Mac, Go!

I guarantee you that you did better than Katie Couric will do. I didn't see it and I'm that positive.

Congratulations. This was a great service to the voters and to the candidates.



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Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

Excellent. And good job on the photos

Next thing we know you'll be uploading video!

For what it's worth, I got an email from John Chappelle

He thought that he was going to get a "reminder phone call". I've never heard of a reporter who needs a reminder call for an event they're supposed to cover, but, whatever. Anyway, he promises to be at the debate on the 11th. I will send him several reminder emails so he doesn't forget.

Be the change you wish to see in the world. --Gandhi
Pointing at Naked Emperors

Send them once a day

every day and then hourly the day of the event. He'll never forget again. :D

Robin Hayes lied. Nobody died, but thousands of folks lost their jobs.



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Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

If loving that idea is wrong......

I don't want to be right... :)

No matter that patriotism is too often the refuge of scoundrels. Dissent, rebellion, and all-around hell-raising remain the true duty of patriots.

Progressive Discussions

Actually - we should email him with questions

Grace and I are going to a Durham Bulls game that night, but we could email him background on the three candidates we've got here, and then questions that we'd like to hear answered. Include our positions with the party. Enourage Deaton, Ruggles, Wicker, Greene, et al to do the same. And others who are involved in the party now. Barton, etc. Call me when you get a chance. We can organize this.

Be the change you wish to see in the world. --Gandhi
Pointing at Naked Emperors