As we have reported previously, here and here, Tenth Congressional District Democratic primary candidates Dan Seals and Jay Footlik will square off in several debates, beginning next week.
The first debate (the 'warm-up'?) will be held at Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire, on Wednesday January 9, 2008, at 7:30 p.m. You can get directions to the school and some limited information about the debate at the Stevenson website here. It will be held in the Performing Arts Center's "Little Theater."
Mr. Andy Conneen, a Stevenson teacher (and one of CBS Channel 2's "2 Regular Guys"), got back to TA with some additional information. The debate is sponsored by the Stevenson High School Political Action Club. The format for the debate will be a 60 minute debate, moderated by Stevenson students. There will be six "preset" questions, then audience questions for the remainder of the time. According to Mr. Conneen, both candidates have confirmed their attendance. And, the public is welcome to attend, although I expect that Stevenson students will be the core audience. The theater holds about 250 people, which is fairly large, although since this will be the first public Seals v. Footlik debate, I would also expect attendance to be good. So you may want to get there early. The Political Action Club had no plans of this writing to do a video post, so you may have to show in person to get the scoop. We here at Team America, of course, will do our best to provide a full report.
Mr. Conneen also announced that the club will be hosting an 8th Congressional District debate between the GOP candidates on the same evening from 5:45-7 p.m. So, it should be a busy evening.
The second set of debates will be sponsored by the League of Women Voters. As we previously reported, these debates will be on Thursday, January 10, 2008 and Saturday January 12, 2008. The first debate will be at New Trier East High School in Winnetka at 7:00 p.m. on the 10th. More info is here. The second debate will be at the Arlington Heights Library at 10:00 a.m. on the 12th. More info is here.
I spoke with Ms. Judith Royal of the LWV Palatine-Arlington Heights group, which is hosting the Saturday debate. No one returned my call from the Winneka-Northfield-Kenilworth group, which is sponsoring the Thursday debate, but Ms. Royal explained that the LWV debate format is pretty strict, so I would expect both debates to follow the same basic format. BTW, Ms. Royal says the LWV prefers the term "candidate forum" rather than debate.
Basically, there will be a moderator who is a LWV member, but one who resides outside the district. The candidates will both be introduced and have two minutes for an "opening statement." Questions will then be asked of each candidate, and each candidate gets the same question, with each candidate having an equal number of chances to speak first. There will be a one minute time limit for responses, with no rebuttal. The questions will not be specific to any candidate, in other words, a candidate will not be asked a question that the other candidate cannot also answer. So, probably no tough questions for Seals about his questionable employment record, or the terms of Footlik's leased 10th District housing. Each candidate will have one minute at the end for a closing statement. Pre-written questions will also be taken from the audience by means of cards that must be filled out and turned in to the moderator, who will ask all of the questions. Seating may be fairly tight, at least at the Saturday debate.
SO- if you were advising Seals and Footlik on how to prepare for the debates, what would you suggest? Here's TA's big tip for both candidates: since you are in a Democratic primary, and you are essentially speaking to Democrats (despite the non-partisan nature of both debates), don't waste more than 20 seconds on establishing that George W. Bush has ruined the country, and Mark Kirk has gone along with it. No one wants to hear (again) about how Bush screwed up the response to Katrina or started an unpopular war. Your audience gets it. And, it's way older than yesterday's news.
Instead, maybe try to explain why you, and not the other meshugana, ought to be the guy who gets the chance to go up against Mark Kirk in the general election. Be specific, and don't simply try to say that you would vote differently than Mark Kirk, because we can assume so will the other guy. This is the big time now, and the loser of the February 5th primary gets to go home, whether that's the 9th Congressional District (for Seals) or Washington, D.C. (for Footlik).