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3rd Congressional debate gets limited coverage

May 27, 2010

On Monday, the Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce and Davenport University held a forum for candidates running in the 3rd Congressional District race. Six of the seven candidates vying for the seat that will be vacated by Vern Ehlers participated in the debate held at Davenport’s campus on Kraft near the Southbelt.

The only news agency to cover the debate was the Grand Rapids Press. Press editor Jeff Cranson was the moderator for the debate, a fact the Press article omitted. The debate was scheduled to last for two hours.

The Press coverage of the debate was very limited, offering only a single comment from each of the candidates. The article did start out stating, “the five Republicans hewed to the right, criticizing health care reforms, corporate bailouts and taxes in general while trying to avoid being labeled a “politician.” However, there were no details as to why these candidates took those positions, nor what policies they would put forth if elected.

The reporter mentioned the lone Democrat (Paul Mayhue) at the debate near the end of the article stating he, “defended the Obama Administration’s health care legislation and its bailouts of the auto industry.” Candidates used words like taxes and free trade and the only question asked from the moderator included in the article was about Asian carp. It’s hard to imagine that there wasn’t something more substantive asks of candidates during the two-hour debate.

The Press reporter could have at least looked at the comments candidates made and compare them to what they have posted on their websites. As of this writing Justin Amash has more platform information than any other candidate, although 75-words or less on issues like education, health care and the economy is not very impressive. Amash’s issues page states that he believes in the “free market,” protecting private property, a private health care system, lowering taxes, gun rights and a strong military.

Bill Hardiman has limited information about where he stands on issues and only addresses government spending, national defense, limiting government and putting less restrictions on business.

Former Kent County Commissioner Steve Heacock only has information about his stance on health care and Louise Johnson’s issue page is blank. Bob Overbeek has a 10-point plan, which consists on just bullet points. Overbeek is the only candidate who mentions the US wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as immigration and Cap & Trade legislation. The Democratic candidate Paul Mayhue has limited information on education, health care, jobs and seniors.

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