City of Newark residents and university students respond to Delaware Debates 2018
Managing Mosaic Editor
Despite all tickets being sold out for Delaware Debates 2018, Mitchell Hall was noticeably empty at the beginning of the debate between Democratic U.S. House Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester and Republican U.S. House nominee Scott Walker.
With a noticeably aging audience, it seems university students missed out on the action that went down as Walker promoted a “virtual wall” to stifle illegal immigration and challenged “social media moguls,” such as “Jeffrey Zuckerberg,” whom he named as the founder of Facebook and Blunt Rochester challenged Walker’s oscillation between the Democratic and Republican Party platforms over the past couple of years.
City of Newark residents and university students seemed to overwhelmingly believe that Ralph Begleiter, the moderator of both debates, demonstrated favoritism toward Blunt Rochester and Democratic incumbent Sen. Tom Carper, who debated against Republican U.S. Senate nominee Rob Arlett in the second half of Delaware Debates 2018.
“It was pretty biased by the University of Delaware and I think they were pretty much in favor of Carper,” Jon Sherman, a City of Newark resident, said. “I think their questions were pretty slanted. I think the University of Delaware’s Center for Political Studies [Communication] is a leftist organization.”
But accusations of partiality were not limited to City of Newark residents. Sherman’s attitude toward the university’s Center for Political Communication (CPC) and Begleiter, the founding director of the university’s CPC, found reverberation in the thoughts of Cara Gannon, a junior at the university.
“One candidate was definitely challenged more than the other,” Gannon said. “But it was refreshing to see an average, common person from Delaware stand up and hold their own in a debate.”
Concerning Walker’s candidacy, Gannon and John Wehmeyer, a senior at the university, both agreed that his identity as an outsider would appeal to voters who are frustrated with the influence of money in politics, the hyperpartisanship that grips Washington D.C., and the increasingly left-leaning Blunt Rochester.
“Walker’s appeal is being a centrist and that can help him in the general election,” Wehmeyer said. “I think on some points Blunt Rochester has been leaning a bit too far left, maybe a little bit away from the average voter in Delaware.”
Another trope Delaware Debates 2018 could not escape was mentioning President Donald J. Trump just as often as Blunt Rochester, Walker, Carper and Arlett.
“I wish they did not address every question in relation to Trump because we already know what Trump stands for and I’m interested in what they [Blunt Rochester and Walker] stand for, how they would do their job, and not so much as how Trump does his job,” Gannon said. “I think people are more in the center and if we’re going for the average, median voter, Walker’s going to draw in more people rather than going to the right or left. Walker is a little more open to more ideologies.”
Laura Jacob, a junior at the university, saw Blunt Rochester’s rhetoric as a remedy for the same hyperpartisanship in Washington D.C., brought up by Gannon and Wehmeyer.
“I liked Congresswoman Rochester’s quote about how she’s not running against someone but she is running for something,” Jacob said. “Politics is so divided. She made it seem like she’s representing people, not just fighting the opposite party.”
With regard to debate topics that were left untouched, Daniel Walker, an alum of the university, wished that Blunt Rochester and Walker had more explicitly discussed education.
“I know where the Congresswoman stands on it [education] and I know where Scott Walker stands on some issues, but education isn’t a real sexy topic,” Daniel Walker said. “Public schools are not as much of a sexy topic as they used to be. We talk about job creation, but you can’t have job creation without an educated workforce to fill those jobs … in Delaware we have a lot of computer science jobs, but we do not have people filling those jobs because our current education system is simply not preparing people for those jobs.”
Gallery: Delaware Debates 2018 by Louis Mason
Max Grozovsky, a junior at the university, was upset by Arlett’s explicit linkage between mental illness and mass shootings.
“Total disgust with Mr. Arlett,” Grozovsky said. “Never before have I seen a politician more brazenly or remorselessly scapegoat people with mental illnesses.”
The Delaware general election is on Nov. 6.