Bill de Blasio Wins Night #1 of Democratic Debate #1

Bill de Blasio campaign logo

Who wins depends a lot on what you want to get out of the debate. I think in this first debate you want a memorable moment that will help you move up in the polls. Think of it like ‘Survivor: Election 2020 Edition‘. In this round, you win as long as you don’t get voted off the island.

So who lost?

First off, in my opinion, is Beto O’Rourke. Thanks, but no thanks. Lots of nice words, and occasional nice phrase, but not sure there was a comprehensible sentence in there anywhere. (Maybe in the Spanish bit?) I expect my candidates to answer questions – he didn’t. And from what I’ve seen of other events, that’s not a surprise. So, I’d recommend that O’Rourke spend another year or two finding himself before he tries to run for office again.

Jay Inslee also lost in this debate. I like him for his location (neighboring state, hooray!) and because I care about his main issue of climate change. He did not stand out in the debate though and I found his championing of climate change to be pretty lame. I found myself losing interest in Inslee as a candidate during the night.

John Delany did a good job of getting some attention on the stage. Unfortunately, the added attention has proved that he is far to moderate/centrist for me to waste much more time looking at. He’s lost some ground, and seems likely to be my second choice to vote out of the race.

Tulsi Gabbard was my favorite going into the debate, but she lost me when she failed to answer the first question she got: should women get equal pay? This is the first time I’ve seen Tulsi NOT answer a question with a direct yes/no answer. It surprised me. Maybe it was nerves, or maybe it’s the first time someone asked her a normal question instead of bringing up Assad and LGBT issues from her past. It did make me question if she was really ready for the top of the ticket or not.

After this disappointing pivot to her stump speech in lieu of an answer, she seemed to disappear until near the end of the debate. As other candidates started jumping in and interrupting she was polite and just raised her hand a time or two. It was only near the end of the debate that she made a come back when confronting Tim Ryan on brining troops back from Afghanistan. I’m pleased to see that and it restored my faith a little. I hope she will spend the next month practicing softball questions so she can shine as brightly as I know she can on next month’s stage because I’m still a fan.

Middle of the Pack

In the middle of the pack there were several candidates that did not change my mind either for or against.

Elizabeth Warren. Love her, love her plans for everything, love her straight shooting answers. There were no surprises. I don’t think she moved the ticker up or down, but as a front runner going in, that’s okay.

Amy Klobuchar. Not a fan. She’s too much like my parents always saying you have to be ‘realistic’. I prefer a candidate with big dreams. I understand Mitch McConnell is waiting to kill them – but why give up before you start? She did have a moment in her closing argument where she claimed to not be the “establishment candidate” that might have moved me just a little bit in her direction.

Cory Booker seems like a nice guy. I mean REALLY NICE. Kind of like a younger Joe Biden. I don’t know what he is running for exactly, and that bothers me. He still seems nice, and I still don’t know why exactly he is running for president.

Julian Castro surprised a lot of folks tonight, but I’ve seen him speak at a couple other events, so I was already thinking of him as a serious candidate. I think he probably will get a boost from this debate in general, but for me, I did not see anything that changed my mind about him as a candidate. Glad he found his moment to shine.

The Winners?

The big surprise of the night for me was Tim Ryan and Bill de Blasio. Both of them have gone from “and the rest” status to being candidates of interest.

Tim Ryan will probably not get my vote. He is a moderate and that’s not where I’m at personally. I did, however, very much HEAR what he said about people who have been forgotten though. This is such an important message for the democratic party, and for our country. I don’t want to leave behind the rust belt, or the rural areas of our country and I was reminded tonight how they often are forgotten. Tim Ryan earned some good karma from me for pointing that out and I’m hoping he sticks in the race to keep pointing that out throughout the primary season.

The biggest winner of the night, however, was clearly Bill de Blasio. He was bold – bordering on obnoxious. And it worked. The debate started out a little boring, but it didn’t stay that way. Once de Blasio broke the rules, others followed suit and we got some interesting exchanges. Julian Castro took on Beto O’Rourke on immigration reforms and Tulsi Gabbard took on Tim Ryan about how to deploy our troops. No one talked about hand size…

That did more to make me question who might really stand a chance on a debate stage with Donald Trump. While I’m hoping that he will be impeached well before that happens to any of our 24 hopefuls… deBlasio stands out and someone who might be able to cope with the type of chaos that follows our president where ever he goes. If we really want someone who can beat Donald Trump, this might be that guy.

More than that though, I have to ask if it isn’t more impressive that someone has actually implemented universal healthcare and raised the minimum wage while others are just talking about it? New York is a pretty liberal (and expensive) city, so it might not be as impressive as getting $15/ hr in Washington State or Medicare for All in Montana – but here are three candidates that can claim to have done something that others are still talking about. Food for thought…