While most of the nation was watching 2016 Republican frontrunner Paul Ryan finish up the last few lies of his vice presidential nomination acceptance speech, gubernatorial hopefuls Rob McKenna and Jay Inslee were in America's Vancouver engaging in a debate that was viewed live by possibly nobody who wasn't actually paid to view it live.
It wouldn't be fair to declare either candidate the winner; they both scored some points. But McKenna certainly came off as the angrier, more combative of the two while Inslee stuck to a more positive note. That said, I do think the cramped format, in which McKenna and Inslee stood side by side behind podiums, visually worked to Inslee's advantage. The taller, broader Inslee simply looks more manly than the weaselly, bespectacled McKenna. Yeah, I know, that's an incredibly shallow observation. But when voters are choosing a leader the image thing matters.
As for the substance of the debate, we professional debate watchers really didn't learn anything new except that Inslee strongly supports building light rail across the proposed Columbia River Crossing bridge, while McKenna, not so much. And given McKenna's anti-Sound Transit pedigree, there's no surprise there. Both candidates pledge to increase spending on education, but neither will raise our taxes, so good luck with that. And in what was possibly the stupidest lightning round ever, we learned that McKenna hides under an umbrella when it rains, whereas Inslee, well, he's a Pacific Northwest manly man who shrugs off precipitation.
But since very few real people actually watched this debate, and since there were no major gaffes for the media to spin into damaging story lines, none of this really matters. The debate does nothing to change what remains a very close race that will be ultimately determined by turnout.
Did you watch the big gubernatorial debate last night?