Ackerson-Buyer Debate

Steve Buyer is taking his ball and going home. From the admittedly mixed reports and vague accusations, Buyer told Ackerson that he would not participate in any future debates. According to the Lafayette Journal & Courier’s Dorothy Schneider, Buyer was upset that Ackerson sent out a press release about the debate:

Dave Wyeth, a member of the hosting Hendricks County Farm Bureau, said Buyer was referring to a news release Ackerson sent out Wednesday about the event. Wyeth said there was no written rule about not sending out releases but said the event was intended for only Farm Bureau members and the leadership.

Now, I’m not a member of the Farm Bureau, but I’ve seen plenty of press releases for local FB events and debates. Keeping a debate secret kind of defeats the point of a debate. And after Buyer has repeatedly ignored Ackerson’s other calls for a debate, I don’t think he has a lot of credibility here.

The debate became heated when Ackerson pointed out that Buyer has missed more votes than any other member of the Hooiser delegation. Buyer responded by calling Ackerson “the gentleman from Maryland” and demanding an apology on behalf of his wife, according to the Indy Star:

Buyer accused Ackerson of being “mean-spirited” with distortions and fabrications and demanded an apology to Buyer’s wife. Buyer said she was upset by the political mudslinging at the same time was she coping with the death of a relative.

Ackerson responded by saying that he was referring to Buyer’s 16-year Washington career, and not specifically the past term. (If I recall, Buyer has responded angrily to this accusation in the past as well – I’m trying to find an article I vaguely remember from 2002 or 2004 about this.)

Oh, yeah, and the candidates discussed a few issues, as well. Masson has a partial breakdown of their positions, and his analysis nails the difference between the candidates:

Broadly speaking, I think the candidates demonstrated that they are presenting the voters of the 4th District a choice between the pragmatism of Nels Ackerson and the ideology of Steve Buyer. Buyer would tend to begin his responses with buzz word principles that sound good, but, at the end of the day, are loose enough to adapt to the result you want. The most important fact about Buyer is that his voting record approaches or equals 100% conformity with the Republican party line. We might as well just save his salary by having the 4th District give the Republican whip a proxy vote to use as he pleases. He said that he views the House as something like an arena of combat for competing principles.

Ackerson, by contrast, is perhaps a little too committed to the notion of bipartisanship for my tastes. But, he’s deeply committed to the idea that a Representative is elected by his or her district to solve problems, not to get into a pissing match with the other party to see who has the bigger ideology. (I’m paraphrasing.) He says he’ll be a Blue Dog Democrat, committed to fiscal responsibility. And, he embraces the notion that people fundamentally want to do the right thing, regardless of whether they are Republicans or Democrats.