If there is any doubt that Jack Goodman is the candidate with momentum in the Seventh District Congressional race, tonight's debate should put it to rest.
The momentum may have started too late to catch up to Billy Long, but Goodman's effective ads, and the fact that he is having an easier time raising money as the campaign enters its latter stages, have added an interesting wrinkle to the final weeks.
Goodman, Gary Nodler, and Darrell Moore all appeared to be more comfortable than Long, who at times seemed to be working much too hard to fit in his talking points about being a businessman who has signed checks for more than 30 years and about needing to send someone besides a politician to Washington.
Humor never hurts in a debate and two candidates, Goodman and Nodler had the audience laughing during the second hour. Goodman's moment came during a bizarre question about what vehicle the candidates drive. While Long got nowhere with a response that he had been driving a Ford truck throughout the Seventh District campaigning before Tea Party favorite Scott Brown did it in Massachusetts, Goodman had some fun with the question, noting that he had always supported Ford, despite his vote and help with Chuck Purgason's filibuster on the Ford/Claycomo plan last week.
Nodler received the biggest laugh with his deft handling of a ludicrous question from KTWO radio personality Brian Calfano, who asked which of the other candidates he would want to win if he were killed in an auto accident. Nodler noted he had been concerned about dead voters casting ballots in St. Louis, but if he were killed he was going to sit this one out.
The winners tonight:
Jack Goodman- Goodman loosened up tonight and seemed like a regular guy, cutting into the area that Billy Long has staked out. His answers were knowledgeable, to the point, and should appeal to his conservative base.
Gary Nodler- Nodler has a much-deserved reputation for coming off as pompous at these kinds of events. He did not try to show how much more he knows than the other candidates, a frequent shortcoming in the past, He showed a command of the facts.
Steve Hunter- By not showing up, he did not make any mistakes.
Scott Eckersley- He was well spoken, managed to mention a couple of times his fight for the people's right to know, and he came off as much more of a regular kind of guy than his Democratic opponent.
Kevin Craig- He had the most fun, and undoubtedly will capture the Libertarian vote.
Maintaining the status quo, but not damaging their campaigns-Billy Long and Darrell Moore.
Tonight's losers- Jeff Wisdom, Michael Moon, and Michael Wardell found no ways to stand out from the Republican crowd and Wardell came off as a "me, too" type guy, constantly saying he agreed with everything his fellow opponents said. Democratic candidate Tim Davis sounded foppish and out of touch.
More commentary to come.