If you host it, they will speak

All six Republican gubernatorial candidates gathered in Norfolk for debate


Norma Volkmer

The six Republican gubernatorial candidates )from the left: Pete Ricketts, Jon Bruning, Mike Foley, Beau McCoy, Bryan Slone and Tom Carlson) had the second of three debates last Wednesday night at the Johnny Carson Theatre in Norfolk, Neb.

Norma Volkmer, News Editor

The six Republican gubernatorial candidates talked education, tax cuts, and government spending in last Wednesday night’s debate at the Johnny Carson Theatre in Norfolk. It was their second of three planned debates before the May 13 primary.

Mike Foley, Jon Bruning, Tom Carlson, Bryan Slone, Pete Ricketts and Beau McCoy stuck to the script, cracking jokes with each other to keep the atmosphere light and generally agreed on all the topics.

During the 90-minute debate, the candidates answered eight questions from a media panel and two questions from Norfolk High students.

They all agreed that tax cuts and reduced state spending are a necessity in the coming years. Property taxes in particular were under fire, though the candidates also agreed that while property taxes must be changed, it cannot come at the expense of the education system.

As Republicans, they are all pro-life and against gay marriage being allowed in Nebraska. Each candidate supported the Unicameral’s recent decision to not expand Medicaid in Nebraska as part of the Affordable Care Act.

McCoy spoke a lot about his experience as a senator, particularly in regards to cutting taxes in the state. Slone also talked about his work with cutting taxes nationwide in the 1980s under the Reagan administration.

Bruning’s number one goal as governor would be cutting taxes, though he also mentioned his experience fighting President Obama and the federal government as showing he would stand for Nebraska’s best interests.

Ricketts focused on his experience as CEO of his own company and said his number one focus as governor would be improving careers and job creation. Carlson talked about citizen safety and the changes he would make to roads, bridges and water distribution in Nebraska.

Foley cited improving the state Health and Human Services as his first focus if was is elected. The department is one-third of the state government, and according to Foley, the current state auditor, is severely broken.

While much of the night was spent agreeing and repeating, the candidates were each allowed to ask a fellow candidate one question at the end of the debate, and the claws came out. Ricketts was popular, receiving two pointed questions about his lack of government experience (from Carlson) and his stance on illegal immigration (from McCoy).

Overall, little new was learned from each candidate and the race is still as close as ever heading towards the May primary.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Chuck Hassebrook should be very happy about the tough choice facing Republicans this primary season.