The forum was similar to last weeks in Salem where the candidates were brought in one at a time with the rest sequestered in a room outside of the hall before they were forced to give up their cell phones to avoid knowing the questions in advance of stepping to the podium.
The awkward format was only altered from the Salem event by allowing each candidate introduce themselves in the hall with their competitors in the room. The questions were also different. The Cape Girardeau event asked questions about the Farm Bill and the political heroes of each.
The candidates in attendance were: Wendell Bailey, Jason Crowell, Peter Kinder, Bob Parker, Todd Richardson, Jason Smith, Lloyd Smith, Dan Brown, Sarah Steelman, Clint Tracy, John Tyrrell, and Wayne Wallingford.
Todd Richardson – He stepped up his game from Salem adding more passion to his polished delivery. His campaign’s momentum will only be accelerated by his performance in Cape Girardeau where he likely had the best chance of any candidate to move up on committee members lists.
Peter Kinder – This crowd was clearly supportive of their favorite son. There was a warmth coming from the crowd for Kinder that was unique in the evening, and Kinder clearly responded to the affection. He also paid a compliment to Jo Ann Emerson’s work on infrastructure that was warmly greeted by the crowd.
Jason Smith – Smith seemed a little nervous in his hometown, but not at all in Cape. The candidate who may have more committed votes than anyone in the race was on point in Cape. He seemed in charge of the stage, and was able to temper his passion well to accentuate his best quality, his likability.
Jason Crowell – In the most clear example imaginable that cutting spending is not popular in either party, there seemed to be every republican who had ever had a pork barrel spending project gutted by Crowell while in the senate in attendance at this forum. While his delivery was not as overpowering as in Salem the point was driven home: its easy to be a conservative on the campaign trail, its harder to be a conservative when so many in your own party are twisting your arm wanting their share of the government pie, and even harder to come to a forum in a room full of scorned conservatives starved of goverand tell them “I’m sorry, I’m not sorry”, thus was Crowell’s challenge Thursday night.
Sarah Steelman – Steelman was her typical direct self at the forum. She was very clear with her answers and the consensus in the room was that she gave the best answer of the entire night for the second week in a row, with her response this week to question on the farm bill. She was also the most creative in the field when she stated her political hero was William F. Buckley.
Wayne Wallingford – The Obi-Won Kenobi of twitter was not dealth the best hand by speaking last, but his very common sense real world experience was expressed with a likeability. If he is agressive over the next two weeks he will have every opportunity for a strong showing at the nominating meeting. Further his poise in these husting is likely to help his shine in the state senate, just an overall impressive performance by an impressive man.
Lloyd Smith – Smith has a good delivery last week, but his message seemed strained. This week he was on his game. The questions were tailor made for him, and he shined on the farm bill and had some of the older people in the crowd tearing up along with him when describing Bill Emerson has his political hero.
Wendell Bailey – You just have to love Wendell, and his idea about having a primary has merit. However, this committee has expressed large scale interest in either taking a pass on selecting a congressman or choosing the affable Bailey to be a place holder, but you just have to love Wendell.
Clint Tracy – From all accounts Tracy is a great person with a tremendous background who is earnest about his desire to see good things happen for the country. However, he did not have a good night in his hometown. It just seems that these forums are not suited to his skill set.
John Tyrrell – He is an affable person who may be a serious candidate for state representative some day. He simply doesn’t fit the tall bill of filling the stage with Kinder, Crowell, and the like. He is certainly making a lot of friends in this process, and hasn’t hurt himself a bit making the rounds.
Bob Parker – He had several supporters in the crowd, and you feel he nearly always has a great speech on the tip of his tongue, but a forum where he is timed doesn’t do him any favors.
Dan Brown – Something must have happened between the senate caucus on Thursday morning and the forum Thursday night. He was all set to hit the forum with a head of steam and take no prisoners, but he did none of that.
Kevin Engler stood at the back of the room for the first two hours with a look of bewilderment on his face as each candidate strode to the right.
Jeff Mazur literally lit twitter up with sarcasm all night during the forum.
Trent Summers also did some fine work on twitter and excelled with a Mules – Slum pun.
Steve Tilley was in the crowd, and had several wondering what might have been had he decided to stay in public life.
Barry Aycock a potential democratic candidate stood at the back of the room and was heard wondering how many people the field of candidates employed.
Jo Ann Emerson was not in attendance but she was discussed in much more friendly terms in Cape Girardeau than Salem. There was a classy mention of her service by Peter Kinder and Lloyd Smith and the crowd and moderator was much more positive on her record than last week.
This is said to be the final forum sanctioned by the 8th district committee unless the race turns nasty until what many say will be a February 9th meeting at the River Centre in Van Buren to select a nominee.