Recap of the Candidates’ Forum at MU

Tonight I went to the Associated Students of the University of Missouri’s candidates’ forum in Memorial Union. Sen. Chuck Graham, Kurt Schaefer, Mary Still, State Rep. Ed Robb, Chris Kelly, State Rep. Steve Hobbs and Kelly Schultz all came to speak to students and Columbia community members. Still’s opponent, Republican Ryan Asbridge, could not attend the forum as he has been called to active duty by  U.S. naval intelligence.

About 65 people showed up for the event, which began with an opening statement from each of the candidates. In the first round of the forum, candidates responded to questions they had seen beforehand. In the second, people in the audience got to ask the candidates questions.

Question topics ranged from concerns about health care, questions about Medicaid cuts, second amendment rights and the legalization of medical marijuana.

Some quotable quotes from the evening:

Graham, on the MU student curator bill vetoed by Gov. Blunt in July, said to the students: “They shouldn’t have underestimated you.”

Schaefer, on Graham’s record in the Senate: “We can do better.”

Still, on Medicare cuts: “The other part of the cuts, apart from the moral issue, is the economic issue. There’s a multiplier effect in this and it hurts the economy of the state. Those (federal) dollars went to New Jersey, New York, I don’t know where they went, but they did not come to Missouri.”

Robb, on being an advocate for MU: “I will support all measures to fund higher education.”

Kelly, on Robb and the failure of the Prepare to Care agreement: “The difference between us is as stark as can be and it is not from a desire to help the university, but the ability to fight sucessfully. Prepare to Care was essential, and it failed. It will not fail on my watch.”

Hobbs, on Medicare cuts: “The money is available to restore those cuts; it’s in your wallets and your parents’ wallets.”

Schultz, on academic freedom: “Our role is not to micromanage what happens in the classroom.”

There were few surprises from the candidates themselves. All of them stuck to their previously outlined platforms, came to the defense of academic freedom, and pledged to advocate for MU if elected. Also, all of them support second amendment rights. Still is the only candidate who does not own a gun.

One surprise of the night came from a group of five or six students from the Students for Sensible Drug Policy seemed to throw many for a loop. When one of these students asked Reps. Robb and Hobbs if they would sponsor or co-sponsor a bill to legalize marijuana, both gave a flat “no” answer. At the end of the discussion, another man apparently unconnected with the student group, called Hobbs smug and demanded Hobbs rephrase his answer.

When another student said that too many Americans were incarcerated for minor possession cases, Kelly, a former judge, said that almost all people “incarcerated for possession” were really imprisoned for violating suspended sentence. “It’s not a clean issue,” Kelly said.

Though the forum was mostly civil, there were some sharp words between Graham and Schaefer. Discussion of the MOHELA bill—and Graham’s filibuster against it—led to heated accusations. At one point, after Schaefer repeatedly told the audience that Graham’s filibuster hurt MU, Kelly and still came to Graham’s defense, saying that the filibuster was “a profile in courage.” Not to be outdone, Graham all but accused Schaefer and his law firm of cronyism because the firm of 300 lawyers, which handled the Bombardier Aerospace project, employs Gov. Matt Blunt’s sister Amy R. Blunt. Schaefer responded by calling Graham self-centered and hypocritical.

Now that’s a race to keep an eye on.

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4 Responses

  1. It’s my understanding that ASUM did not invite Libertarian Chris Dwyer to the debate, even though he is on the ballot for the 19th Senate district. Is that correct?

  2. I haven’t been able to contact the ASUM yet, but I am looking into it. Thanks for the question, and I hope to have an answer for you soon.

    –Hayley

  3. I was able to make contact with one of their representatives over the weekend and a decision was made to not include any candidates who received less than 500 votes in the August primaries. However, that only kept Chris Dwyer from attending as there were no other third-party candidates running in those particular races.

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