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Democratic Candidates Take Center Stage

Unpredictable and exciting. That's how I view the Democratic presidential primary contest.  

We've seen Republican presidential candidates engage in personal bickering, political posturing, and one-upmanship that exposed positions ranging from the nonsensical to the downright scary. It will be refreshing to watch and listen to our candidates debate actual facts and share their visions of America.

When Democrats take the stage on Tuesday, October 13 at 5:00 p.m., they will be debating issues that never entered the Republicans' conversation: climate change, college debt,  immigration reform, gun control, criminal justice reform, early childhood education, economic inequality. Voters will hear a discussion that resonates with their immediate concerns and their hopes for the future.

These  candidates are all serious, experienced lawmakers with records of achievement. It will be interesting to see how they handle themselves and define their positions and visions. Will there be any surprises? Will the debate change minds? Post-debate conversations and polls will begin to answer these questions.

Fighting for Frontrunner

Former First Lady, Senator, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton launched her campaign as the undeniable frontrunner. With extensive experience in public office and policy, she is one of the most qualified candidates ever to run for office. But relentless fire from Republicans about Benghazi and email servers have effectively eroded her lead, and her campaign has yet to ignite passionate support. Can she stanch the bleeding in the polls and turn the tide with a strong and inspirational performance?

Runaway Renegade

Senator Bernie Sanders' message has caught fire with an enthusiastic and growing base of supporters. Tens of thousands turnout for his appearances. The sheer number of his small donors has closed the fundraising gap. Some say a 74-year-old self-avowed socialist can't win a national election. Of course, people also said that a first-term senator named Barack Obama could never win. Will Sanders appeal to a broader audience?  Or has his message and appeal peaked?

New Generation

Former Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley has a solid record but soft name-recognition and support. He implemented gun control, reduced homicides, eliminated the death penalty, and increased the minimum wage in his state. While he claims that he's walked the walk of an executive officer, not just talked the talk, recent violence in Baltimore may cast a long shadow. He represents a new generation of leaders. Will voters trust this polished newcomer to the national stage as the standard-bearer for the future?

Patriotic Profile

Former Senator James Webb's campaign is still simmering on low, but he has a patriotic profile and experience that sets him apart from the others. Webb has been a highly decorated combat Marine, a counsel in Congress, an Assistant Secretary of Defense and Secretary of the Navy, an Emmy-award winning journalist, a filmmaker, and the author of ten books. Will Senator Webb's national-security chops appeal to Democrats along with a broad segment of moderate and independent voters?

From Republican to Independent and Democrat 

Lincoln Chafee served as a mayor, governor, and senator from Rhode Island. Consistently at odds with conservative Republicans, he was elected governor as an independent with a liberal agenda and finally became Democrat. He co-chaired Independents and Republicans for Obama in 2008 and co-chaired President Obama’s 2012 national reelection campaign. Will his record and experience convince voters to increase his 1% in the polls?

The 800-Pound Donkey in the Room

Vice President Joe Biden is eligible to participate in the debate. He's a popular figure and a viable candidate who rivals Clinton in experience and qualifications and Sanders in appeal. Following the death of his son, he may not have the emotional stamina for a brutal Presidential campaign – and it will be brutal when the gloves come off.  But there's no question that a lot of Democrats are waiting and watching. They see Biden as the candidate who has it all. Will he? Or won't he?  

You're invited to join us for a Debate Watch Party on Tuesday, October 13, at 4:30 p.m. at the Alamo Mexican Cafe in Old Town, located at 2543 Congress St., San Diego (92110). Enjoy a festive ambiance, Taco Tuesday, and a special guest appearance by Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez, a candidate for U.S. Senate. There's parking in the lot behind the restaurant as well as nearby streets and lots. You can RSVP for the debate-watching party on Facebook here or email hannah@sddemocrats.org

Finally, I invite you to vote in our new online Presidential Straw Poll. Just go to www.sddemocrats.org/strawpoll to let us know which Democrat you're supporting. We'll announce the early results following the debate!