Fifth Congressional District Democratic candidates Bern Ewert and Al Weed faced off in their first debate on Saturday, taking an hour and a half to answer questions on Southside job growth, the minimum wage, and the war in Iraq, among other things. The Charlottesville Podcasting Network recorded the event, and provides a podcast of the debate.
6 thoughts on “Ewert, Weed Debate”
Bern Ewert is positioning himself as a centrist Democrat who will focus intently on economic development/job creation in the southern part of the district, and he claims that this makes him electable (whereas Al Weed presumably isn’t). At the risk of oversimplifying a series of comments, Ewert basically says, “I will bring jobs to the 5th District not just someday, but tomorrow,” while Weed says, “I can’t bring jobs to the 5th District tomorrow, but will help create an infrastructure to support long-term job growth”. Al actually said at one point, a bit peeved by Ewert’s frequent referring to his managerial background, “I’m not running to be 5th District Manger, I’m running for Congress”.
So… a couple of questions. Even if Al is right (and I tend to think he is), won’t Ewert’s promises maybe be more attractive to voters, whether or not they’re realistic? And can someone who has been around here longer than me comment on how much name recognition and support Bern Ewert has in the southern part of the district? (His stints as Roanoke city manager and with Prince William County were a number of years ago.)
I supported Weed last time and will again. He has a much broader range of experience, the military, a businessman, etc. Ewert has been only a government bureaucrat.
That being said, I think its a long shot to unseat Virgil Goode with anyone.
Enough dirt from MZM will probably not rub off on him. It would take something like being indicted for a felony for the 5th District voters to turn him out.
Yes, the Democrats should run someone, but capturing that seat(or any Republican seat, thanks to redistricting) would be miraculous.
Actually what Al said was this “I am running to encourage people, to bring people together, to get them out of their own self constrained or self imposed limitations and see that there is a future for them. That there is a voice, there is somebody in Washington who will listen to them; who will hear them; their aspirations and will work to further them.”
I don’t think Bern should be dismissed as a “government bureaucrat”. In fairness, I think Bern was saying that he has practical experience in bringing, literally thousands of jobs to the 5th district. His understanding of what the local governments are facing and need to do to attract jobs puts him in a unique postion to to make the Congressional postion a true federal partner.
Bern has a specific understanding of how that works. With all due respect to Al, he does not have those skill sets. I think Al was peeved when he wrapped up his answer to Bern by saying “So I don’t have a particular answer, Bern, for that question because I don’t think it’s my job to answer that question.”
The core difference is that Al is saying – They will come to me with the ideas and I’ll respond… and Bern is saying he knows how it works and he can be a better partner.
I too think I will support Al Weed but I aslo aknowledge the fact that things are stacked against him. Correct me if I am wrong but I believe that the 5th district went Democratic in the governors race so the way Al wins is by somehow repeating Kaine’s success. That would require him to garner 60% of Albemarle (the most populated locality in the 5th district) 79% of Charlottesville, and also carry Fluvanna, Nelson (along with Brunswick, Danville, and Bedford city) and gaining ground in the other downstate counties. I think in the end Virgil wins this but Al will probably break the 40% mark and possibly reach 43-45% due to dissatisfaction wtih the Republican party (see latest Rasmussen generic ballot poll).
When Al Weed said “So I don’t have a particular answer, Bern, for that question because I don’t think it’s my job to answer that question.” he made clear, in a bold way, the difference between himself and the Virgil Goodes in Congress.
The job of a Congressman is not to be a one-man job placement service. I know about the history of politicans trading jobs for votes and, historically, it’s kept many of them in office. Particularly in urban areas, the deal has been that a mayor or city councilor would give somebody a public works job, in exchange for loyalty from that person and their family. That’s gone on from Tammany Hall to Marion Barry. And, it’s usually become associated with corruption.
It’s been exactly this mindset, on a somewhat wholesale level, that’s gotten Virgil Goode in hot water with MZM. He traded political influence for jobs. And, he tries to minimize the damage by saying that he was just trying to provide jobs for his district, so any “collateral damage” ought to be excused.
I’d rather see a Congressman working to lay a groundwork for long-term economic success in the 5th District to create a fertile ground for prosperity, than to be engaged in the sort of “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” that provides jobs for a few, but never improves the opportunity for real career advancement and self-sufficiency of citizens.
I know Hillary Clinton got in trouble for making her “plantation” reference, but I’ve got to say that the tradition of politicians making the connection between the jobs of individuals with the continuation of power by that politician, strikes me as “plantation politics”. “Without me, you’re out of work.”
Virgil Goode’s career has been built on putting his fingers in holes in the dike. Well, folks, he doesn’t have enough fingers for the 5th District. Al Weed is suggesting that we need to build a new and better dike. That’s what you call leadership.
Harry…. I believe you are preaching to the choir, this is Charlottesville after all. The question is how will downstaters vote? Al Weed needs to hammer his goals in downstate and make Virgil accountable for not building a better “dike.”
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