Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A Roundhouse Swing at Morgan Griffith in Debate

Carter Turner: The gloves came off last night>

Apparently, Carter Turner took off the gloves in his second debate last night with 8th District Del. Morgan Griffith at Back Creek Fire & Rescue, Griffith's home field. Carter had mentioned earlier in the day that he was tired of playing Mr. Nice Guy while Griffith got a free ride back to the Virginia General Assembly and that he had every intention of being assertive in this second—and probably last—debate with the incumbent. I was not able to attend, though I really wanted to, because I’m fighting bronchitis.

Griffith has never really been challenged by a Democrat, though he has had opponents. His fuzzy record, which is highlighted by backroom deals and power plays, is difficult to pinpoint because his influence is rarely on public display. He avoids more votes than he makes, often seeing to it that key legislation doesn’t make it out of committee.

One who was in attendence last night wrote me, "Carter absolutely threw Griffith back on his heels such that he never recovered. Carter took Griffith head on and used the facts and research related to the cigarette tax to illustrate the differences in their approach to things. Morgan's face was beat red—and I seriously thought he would blow his top.

"I had the video rolling for some of it ... but there was no news media to cover it. It killed me! Carter's closing remarks were in regards to his ’Not For Sale’ slogan—and he simply illustrated that he ’couldn't possibly know if the $57,000 [Griffith] had received from the tobacco industry influenced his opposition to such a tax,’ saying that it's up to the voters to determine.

"However, he wanted the voters to know that he/Carter is not accepting contributions from large corporations—in order to be sure his decisions and better judgment are not somehow compromised in the process. Morgan spent the entire night defending, explaining, and back peddling.”

One of the primary points Carter made during the evening is how Griffith's rigid and doctrinaire approach to taxes--no increases, ever, period--is counterproductive when things like the 30 cents tax on cigarettes is considered. Cigarettes cost the state and businesses within the state millions of dollars a year in health care and insurance costs and lost days at work.

Cigarettes are a leading cause of lung and heart disease, which kills 400,000 Americans every year. Griffith said an increase would cost jobs and would hurt the poor and that simply isn't true; never has been. The money saved by people quitting or not starting because of the cost is spent on other things. Griffith posing as a champion of the poor is beyond laughable.

Regardless of how this plays out, it is marvelous to hear that somebody finally lit into Griffith about his abysmal record—what there is of it for public consumption. He needs to face this kind of argument every time he ventures out of his office. An examined politician is a responsive politician. Carter says he will propose yet another debate since this one was head-to-head with the Lieutenant Governor debate, but my guess is that Griffith has had enough debating a candidate who plays rough.

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