The race for the new NC Senate 41 district took center stage at Cornelius Town Hall Tuesday evening. There were 50-75 people in attendance for what was one of the more informative debates I've seen this season. If you missed it, it will be broadcast on Mi-Connection Channel 4 by the end of Thursday - an exact time is still TBD.
Maybe the most important thing to say was this district is fortunate to have such a slate of high quality people running. I was particularly impressed with political newcomer Troy Stafford of Cornelius. While he may not have the necessary name recognition this time around, Mr Stafford certainly held his own against some experienced debaters. Robby Benton pointed out that this race has been much cleaner than some in the area, and compared to the sometimes bitter race for NC-9 that's certainly correct. Dr Copeland tried to steel the show with some good one liners. If the number of laughs was the criteria for winning the debate, he was certainly in the running.
However, the outcome of this race boils down to the more seasoned candidates - John Aneralla and Jeff Tarte. Both candidates are claiming the conservative mantle with Jeff Tarte focusing on his experience as an elected official and John Aneralla focusing on his experience as a party leader in the fight for the conservative cause.
If there was one exchange between them tonight that generated some tension it was Jeff Tarte's answer to a question about Amendment 1. The candidates were asked how they would vote. In a roundabout way, Tarte answered that he would vote for it. Mr Aneralla looked surprised and immediately called him on the inconsistency with his answer to a survey question from Civitas. (See question #6 and the additional comments for #6 at the bottom.)
It appears Jeff Tarte was against a constitutional amendment on marriage before he was for it. Judging by his lack of response when he was called on this inconsistency with his answer Tuesday night, that would appear to be the case.
Regardless of where you come down on this particular issue, as I said in the post Picking A Candidate in a Primary, consistency is the most important thing when choosing between candidates of the same party. It's the only way to know how someone will vote in the future.