It was debate history in the State House on Oct. 14 as Democratic Cong. Walt Minnick faced off against his Republican challenger, state legislator, Raul Labrador. For fans of political brawls, the event did not disappoint.
Labrador was animated as he delivered most of the night’s attacks, mostly in response to Minnick’s controversial negative advertising. The republican challenger called the ads—and the man who decided to run them—“shameful.”
Labrador has worked for 15 years as an immigration attorney, and Minnick has run two television ads that point out a conflict between Labrador’s work helping immigrants achieve citizenship and his campaign rhetoric suggesting that all illegals be sent back to their home country before re-applying to enter the U.S. legally. Under repeat questions about the decision to go negative, Minnick defended the ads as proof of Labrador’s inconsistency and of Labrador’s questionable “character” and “background.”
Personal attacks defined much of the first half of the debate, and Labrador, who was born and Puerto Rico questioned Minnick’s motives. “I thought Walt Minnick was better than that,” he said. “Some of the ugly pictures he used of me in those ads, they make me look like an illegal immigrant,” Labrador said.
Throughout the debate, independent candidate and Air Force veteran Dave Olson was a constant foil to both major party candidates. In an event punctuated by humorous rhetorical jabs, Olson’s closing remarks echoed the frustration of many voters with both major parties.
“Raul, if you’re good in the state legislature, maybe you should stay there. Walt, if you’re a good businessman, maybe you should go back to business,”