The C-SPAN televised Oct. 23 debate was moderated by Meredith Weisel, director of Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington – Maryland Government and Community Relations. Opening remarks were given by Rabbi Jacob Blumenthal of Shaare Torah Synagogue in Gaithersburg, who hosted the event.
The four candidates, David Trone (D), Amie Hoeber (R), George Gluck (Green Party) and Kevin Caldwell (Libertarian) were allowed time for opening and closing statements with questions, answers and rebuttals in-between. They are running for the open Maryland 6th district congressional seat to be vacated by incumbent Democrat John Delaney, who announced he is running for president.
In opening statements Trone emphasized his campaign theme, saying he would bring civility, compassion and competence. Hoeber stated she opposed higher taxes and was an advocate for women, referencing her experience on the board of directors of The House of Ruth Maryland, a nonprofit that supports women and children who have suffered domestic violence. Kevin Caldwell said he lived in Brunswick and was one of the only candidates residing within the district. This was a reference to Hoeber and Trone, both of whom live outside the district, which is allowed.
Gluck said we must get money out of politics, an obvious dig toward Trone, the owner of Total Wine and More, who spent a combined total of nearly $30 million of his own funds in his race for congressional district 8 two years ago and this race. Hoeber’s husband, Mark Epstein, has donated more than $900,000 to the political action committee Value in Electing Women Political Action Committee (VIEW PAC) that is promoting Hoeber’s candidacy. Trone pointed out he is not taking PAC money or money from lobbyists.
On immigration policy and practices, Trone criticized President Donald Trump for leading the country in the wrong direction and creating divisiveness. He said that he opposes the building of a wall at our southern border. Trone added that 45 percent of Fortune 500 company founders were immigrants and that it is important for Democrats to take back control of the House of Representatives to provide a check on Trump.
Hoeber said her mother was an immigrant, and she supports secured borders and the need to revise the immigration process.
On gun violence and providing safe schools, Trone was the most forceful candidate. He said he stands with the children who are leading the way to change our country’s gun culture. Banning assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition clips, closing gun sale loopholes and supporting trigger locks are some of the changes Trone supports. Trone added this is why he doesn’t take PAC money while criticizing the National Rifle Association (NRA).
Gluck referred to the success Australia had with their buy-back of weapons, and he said we need to reinstate the Brady Bill. Caldwell said there was more security at a concert than at local schools and supported securing schools. Hoeber said she supported the Second Amendment and keeping guns out of the hands of those with mental illness.
Concerning healthcare, Hoeber said we must insist on price transparency, wants tort reform to reduce insurance premiums paid by doctors and wants to provide grants to local governments to combat the opioid problem. Gluck said single payer is coming and that healthcare should be a right and not a privilege. Trone said healthcare is a basic human right and criticized Trump and some of his opponents for trying to take away coverage for preexisting conditions and funding for Planned Parenthood.
In closing statements, Hoeber said she is not trying to buy the election; she is trying to earn it. She was critical of the progressive agenda.
Caldwell said again that he is a resident of the district and feels the district should be represented by someone who lives in it.
Green Party candidate Gluck said voters should decide on a Democrat that spreads green or a Green who spreads democracy. He also supported rank choice voting and a win by majority vote. He said we must get rid of gerrymandering so voters can choose their politicians.
Trone said this is the most important election in our lifetime, adding the country is moving in the wrong direction. He would repeal the Trump Tax Cut for the top 1 percent and provide free community college or technical school. He also supported the proposal from billionaire Warren Buffet that if you earn over $1 million, you pay 30 percent tax.
Early voting is underway in Maryland and runs through Nov. 1. The general election is Nov. 6.