Ninth District candidates debate energy, immigration, health care

Monday, July 14, 2008 | 10:03 p.m. CDT; updated 11:48 a.m. CDT, Thursday, September 3, 2009

COLUMBIA — Talk of the economy dominated a debate Monday night between Republican and Democratic candidates to replace Kenny Hulshof as the 9th Congressional District representative in Congress.

The debate, which was moderated by Jim Robertson of the Columbia Daily Tribune and Kermit Miller of KRCG/Channel 13, focused mainly on gas prices and taxes, with a few questions about illegal immigration and health care.

Democrats garnered some applause from the crowd of about 200, but the audience was more subdued during the Republican debate.

Columbia resident Liz Schmidt said she would have liked to hear more about the war from the Republicans, although the Democrats later explicitly addressed the issue.

Rick Thornburg of Hunstville said the war in Iraq was the most important issue to him, so he was glad the Democrats were able to address it.

“I blame the Iraq war for a lot of the trouble we’ve got in the economy,” Thornburg said. “All the Republicans can talk about is the Democrats raising those taxes.”

Robertson, who moderated the Republican debate, did not ask about the war, although Schmidt pointed out that state Rep. Danie Moore, R-Fulton, explicitly mentioned it, and several other Republican candidates mentioned national security. Each of the Democrats addressed the issue as well.

Other national issues, including education and abortion rights, were passed over in favor of more talk about the economy.

Republican candidate and former director of the Missouri Division of Tourism Blaine Luetkemeyer said in his opening statement that he had signed a “no negative advertising” pledge and asked his fellow Republicans to do the same. None explicitly agreed, but former MU football player Brock Olivo said he was also proud of the lack of negativity in the race thus far.

Democrats discussed the 9th District’s potential to return to Democratic leadership after 12 years of Republican representation. They also talked about possible comprehensive policies to respond to the energy crisis, illegal immigration, veteran’s health care and economic policy.

For more on the debate and specific issues, visit

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