RALEIGH – The presidential debate was interesting; the vice presidential debate was a quiet mauling; but the gubernatorial debate between Democrat Governor Roy Cooper and Republican challenger Dan Forest will be pivotal.
That’s because it is likely the only debate that will happen, it’s happening right before early voting gets underway, and it will be voters first opportunity to really size up the candidates side by side.
The debate, kicking off at 7 PM Wednesday evening, will be hosted by the N.C. Association of Broadcasters and aired on local news channels.
Half a million votes have already been cast via absentee ballot, mind you, but those are probably not people open to changing their minds based on a debate performance. However, all those people yet to cast their ballot (by mail or in person) and available to be convinced either way, will find likely find this debate instructive.
For one, it should be an opportunity to witness Roy Cooper face real questions.
If he doesn’t get them from the moderators, who are at serious risk of Lefty bias, Cooper will most definitely get pressed by Dan Forest. This will be a stark contrast from the treatment he gets from the press corps in Raleigh, who mostly offer him big wet kisses, and especially different from his carefully orchestrated COVID briefing press conferences in which the questioners are selected beforehand and outlets that don’t help carry water for Democrats are essentially blackballed.
If pressed, Cooper may exhibit his at once petulant and patronizing tone for A LOT of North Carolina voters.
Further, the lockdowns he’s decreed in the last several months have left a much larger swath of people skeptical of such unilateral decisions and their effects on people and their livelihoods. Cooper usually couches this in ‘common good’ language, with no real follow ups, but this will be different because Forest will be right there to draw him out and expose the lack of consistent reasoning behind such decisions.
To that point, Forest will be able to not only push back against the smear that he’s been reckless with the Pandemic Panic, but also put forth his overall vision for the state and demonstrate a demeanor that lends itself to optimistic leadership based on facts.
While Cooper has a spotty record to defend, Forest has solutions to sell. The contrast in styles, and values, should be a lot more clear for a lot more voters after seeing them side by side.
It all begins Wednesday at 7 PM.