The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

July 20, 2010

Voters say forum a window to candidate views

By Debby Woodin
Globe Staff Writer

JOPLIN, Mo. — Voters who heard candidates for the 7th Congressional District primary races answer questions at Candidate Connection on Tuesday night said they learned more about the candidates from hearing them in person than reading their campaign material.

“This helped me decide, based on their answers, who I am for,” said voter Sandie Morgan, of Joplin, a liberal who will be shown doing a point/counterpoint discussion with conservative panelist Merle Allen when the forum is broadcast on KGCS-TV.

Click here to see a video of residents' reactions after Tuesday night's Candidate Connection forum.

Allen represented the public on the panel asking questions of the candidates. The other panelists were Susan Redden, of the Globe; Alexandra Nicolas, of The Chart and the Globe; Lisa Olliges, of KOAM-TV; and Andy Ostmeyer, of the Globe, who asked follow-up questions.

“I thought that seeing them in person made them stand apart,” Morgan said, though many of their views on national issues are themes consistent with their parties.

“You could see the differences,” she said. “There were similarities, but a lot of differences. It was very valuable for me to see who these people are.”

April Bennett, of Oronogo, said, “I was here to hear everyone’s views.” But, she said, she was not swayed from her support of state Sen. Jack Goodman, R-Mount Vernon, to succeed U.S. Rep. Roy Blunt, a Springfield Republican.

Candidates Goodman and state Sen. Gary Nodler were among the eight Republicans and two Democrats at the forum who brought a group of organized supporters.

Wearing blue T-shirts and carrying placards, Nodler supporters mingled in the hallway at Corley Auditorium in Webster Hall at Missouri Southern State University next to a group for Goodman, in white T-shirts imprinted with his name.

“I’m amazed so many people are interested in the job,” said Joplin voter George Dorsey of the number of candidates. “There is a thread of consistency in their beliefs, and it’s going to be a hard choice.”

There was not any booing of the candidates, though some audience members could be heard to gasp at some views, such as when Goodman and Darrell Moore said they support eliminating the U.S. Department of Education in order to finance military buildup of U.S. troops and equipment.

The candidates answered questions on their views on why the U.S. should maintain a strong military force and whether a date should be enforced to end the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and whether the wars could be won.

Most said victory in Afghanistan is possible but difficult, though former state Rep. Steve Hunter, of Carl Junction, said no one has ever been successful in stabilizing Afghanistan, including the Russians, and “if Russia could not win in Afghanistan, nobody can.”

To a question by Redden about whether they support earmarks, Scott Eckersley, a Democrat from Springfield opposed by Tim Davis, of Branson, characterized them as “political Wac-A-Mole.”

The forum will be rebroadcast on KGCS, the Missouri Southern television station, at 8 p.m. on Thursday, July 22; Monday, July 26; Wednesday, July 28; Sunday, Aug. 1; and Monday, Aug. 2.

A synopsis of each candidate’s response to the panelist’s questions can be found on the Globe’s page on Facebook.