• WisPolitics

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

 9:50 PM 

Pocan-Roys avoid direct attacks in 2nd CD debate

Despite weeks of negative attacks in their bid for the 2nd CD Dem nomination, rivals Mark Pocan and Kelda Helen Roys stayed away from any direct shots in a debate Tuesday night, instead making a few subtle digs a week out from the primary.

Roys and Pocan, both Madison state reps, were largely cordial in the debate on the UW-Madison campus that also featured Dem candidates Matt Silverman and Dennis Hall.

Roys, who has sought to link Pocan to GOP Gov. Scott Walker and the Koch brothers, referenced her determination to not "back down" on certain bills pushed by Walker and her decision not to accept PAC money in her race. She also expressed disappointment that the claims she made in her TV ads haven't been fleshed out during the race.

"I'm very disappointed that the substance of the issues that I raise has never been addressed," Roys said.

Pocan only briefly referenced the ads, saying he has made his campaign a positive one focused on his goals and accomplishments, though noted that he can't "speak for everyone."

"I feel the best way I can campaign -- it’s been our personal choice throughout this campaign -- is to talk about what I've done and what I'm going to do," Pocan said. "And I think when you're in a Democratic primary, I think it’s important that you do it in a positive way."

Pocan was asked about the $260,000 he took in PAC funding, but used the question to advocate for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to include a different definition of corporations for campaign finance purposes.

In light of the negativity between the two, one of the last questions asked the candidates what they liked about their opponents. Pocan noted that Roys was "one of our most articulate advocates" on issues of women's health. Roys said she respected Pocan's strong sense of "progressive values" and his sense of humor.

All four candidates agreed on the need for tighter gun control measures in light of shootings in Aurora, Colo., and, most recently, Oak Creek. After extending condolences to the families of the victims, they agreed on extending the ban on assault rifles, limiting the number of bullets in a magazine and closing loopholes in background checks. Silverman, an attorney and Iraq War veteran, suggested using databases created following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks to enhance those background checks.

"This is exactly the right side to have that conversation," Silverman said of gun control measures. "The downside of an armed civilian population is clear in these days."

One of the few contentious topics during the one-hour debate focused on elements of the Simpson-Bowles plan, a bipartisan proposal to reduce the federal deficit. Both Hall and Silverman supported the plan, which was rejected by the deficit supercommittee established by Congress last year.

At one point, Hall asked the other candidates whether they would support a change to the formula for Social Security, something the plan would have implemented.

Both Roys and Pocan indicated they would not. Pocan said Social Security could be funded for the next 75 years by ending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans while Roys said it could be funded by lifting the income tax cap on Social Security.

"I think we're often offered false choices on what we have to do with Social Security," Pocan said.

Silverman said that the program needs to be fixed, or that they'll be "ignoring the warning signs" that allow them to dictate change "on their own terms."

Hall, an electronic security consultant, chastised Pocan and Roys for not giving a "yes or no" answer to the question, saying that some of the candidates had been "drinking the Washington Kool-Aid."

"We do have to do something. We cannot kick the can down the road, and that's what we'll get if we get the career politician," Hall said, then patting Pocan on the back.

The debate, co-hosted by UW-Madison and WISC-TV will air on WISC at 10 a.m. Sunday and on WISC’s sister channel, TVW, at 7 p.m. Sunday.

-- By Jason Smathers

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