Finally! Blakeslee and Laird debate
August 6, 2010
After weeks of charges and counter charges over who is willing to debate whom, and where, Republican Sam Blakeslee and Democrat John Laird finally had a face-to-face, one-on-one debate. [Mercury News]
The two major candidates in the upcoming Aug. 17 state Senate special election, appeared Thursday before the Silicon Valley Leadership Group in Santa Clara, an event that was not open to the public.
During the debate, Laird attacked his opponent for not supporting California’s landmark greenhouse gas law, AB 32.
“I’m the only person up here who voted for it,” said Laird. “It was a very important act. It was good the way it was done. It is guiding jobs here, and it should not be repealed.”
Blakeslee stopped short of calling for the suspension of AB 32, a prospect that will face voters come November’s Proposition 23. But the Republican assemblyman from San Luis Obispo said the environmental regulation, while sound in its intent, had the unintended consequence of exporting the state’s polluting businesses and shifting the problem elsewhere.
Blakeslee also said he supports retooling the state’s tax code, specifically how much of which taxes Californians pay, but he said he’s against raising the tax burden.
In contrast, Laird argued that a higher gas tax is necessary to improve the state’s roads and bridges, and he supports an oil severance tax to deliver more money for schools.
Observers characterized Thursday’s exchange as civil, in comparison to the negative tone of each campaign’s political ads.
Jim Fitzgerald, the Independent candidate and Libertarian Mark Hinkle were not invited to appear at the forum.
However, all four candidates are scheduled to participate in another public forum in Arroyo Grande Friday at 6 p.m.