The Student News Site of University of Arizona

The Daily Wildcat

91° Tucson, AZ

The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Third-party candidate made debate worthwhile

Somewhere between Republican Jesse Kelly’s continuous snide remarks and Democrat Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ repeated insistence that she was a product of southern Arizona schools, I remembered why many of us feel so bitter toward government in general: It seems to be all talk, no results.

We learned a few things at Monday night’s Congressional District 8 debate: Giffords is more vulnerable than at first expected, Kelly knows how to incite riotous approval with his words and someone should probably put Libertarian candidate Steven Stoltz in a public speaking class.

The debate was, at its best, a comedic look into Southern Arizona politics, including Stoltz’s struggle to speak what came to his mind and an indignant moderator, Christopher Conover, interrupting Kelly to tell the audience, “”Let’s keep our comments to a minimum.”” Throughout the debate, one of the most entertaining features was simply Conover’s irate facial expressions.

The debate proved a lively event and, although Giffords and Stoltz seemed a little perturbed by the disturbances, Kelly conversely relished the occasional chaotic moments, cranking up his charismatic smile to full blast, almost as if he wanted a riot to ensue.

But for those of us on the fence in this contentious congressional race, the debate was extremely disappointing. Not only did many of the candidates’ answers have little or nothing to do with Southern Arizona, but they were often prefaced with barbs toward the opposing candidates that had little or nothing to do with Congressional District 8 issues.

It was clear that Giffords had more substantive and relevant information about what was going on in Southern Arizona. This is no surprise; she is the incumbent and is endowed with more experience. However, Kelly’s inability to address almost anything pertinent to us, the citizens of Southern Arizona, was disturbing. Instead, Kelly chose, for the greater part of the night, to hide behind broad sweeping generalizations against the national Democratic Party, a stance that for the most part was successful in duping many of the audience members into raucous applause.

Kelly’s strongest moment was his deferment of questions regarding his father’s business accepting stimulus money, when Kelly is himself completely against stimulus spending. Kelly coolly brushed off the question, saying he was proud of the work the company has done: “”Dag gone good work, too.”” From that question on, one could see Kelly’s confidence building. That question alone certainly could have ended his chances for a seat in Congress, and he did well to avert a crisis for his campaign.

And then there was Stoltz. The bumbling, stumbling and mumbling Libertarian provided relief for the sometimes-tense atmosphere at the debate. At one point, after being told he had 45 seconds to respond to a question, Stoltz said simply, “”I only need five seconds.”” And nothing more.

Stoltz often answered the questions with a reference to the Constitution, refuting or supporting many of the proposed plans of the other candidates based on whether or not the plan was constitutional.

Stoltz was quintessentially bad at putting sentences together, stumbling through many of the questions for several seconds before answering. While he was altogether one of the more unfortunate debaters I have ever witnessed, he was simultaneously so refreshing.

The times that Stoltz had the unfortunate opportunity to speak were the only moments when I got the feeling that I wasn’t being spoon-fed bullshit from elephants and donkeys. The almost unprepared nature of Stoltz’s speaking was amazingly liberating from the political garbage spewed from Kelly and Giffords. Stoltz stuck to the Constitution for answers and proved that, like many third-party candidates, while he may not have the means to run a successful campaign, he can instill some curiosity into the back of voters’ minds as to why he probably would be better fit to lead than the usual suspects.

If you want your vote to count, by all means vote Giffords or Kelly, but if you really want change for the better, it’s time to branch out. Vote Steven Stoltz for Congress.

— Brett Haupt is a journalism junior. He can be reached at


More to Discover
Activate Search