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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Friday, April 13, 2018

NextGen America Hosts Unusual Debate For Dem Congressional Candidates

Last night, I attended a Congressional debate starring the six Democrats who want to represent the Lehigh Valley in Washington. Though I had a ticket for the Iron Pigs opener against Louisville, I thought I owed to the six Democrats running to be there. Also, it was at Fegley's Allentown Brew Works, a wonderful place. I was lucky enough to say Hi to Rich Fegley and his lovely wife Diane.

This event, called "Keeping Up with the Candidates," was hosted by NextGen America This group was created in 2013 by billionaire Tom Steyer "to prevent climate disaster, promote prosperity, and protect the fundamental rights of every American." The group has really focused on attracting both the young and the forgotten. Despite a $5 admission fee, I'd say there were at least 150-200 people there. The alcohol was flowing freely, and the crowd was feeling raucous and was actually encouraged to be that way by State Youth Jarrett Smith. Even when candidates were answering questions.

Morganelli hung in there, and told the people there that they make a ripple when they stand up for themselves. Quoting Robert Kennedy, he said "those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest wall of oppression and resistance."

Parts of the debate, which included an "either or" session, were fun. Unanimously, candidates picked WaWa over Sheetz, the Eagles over Giants, Yoccos over Potts (except for Ruggles) and Musikfest over the Allentown Fair.

But other parts were silly. Candidates were encouraged to get goofy in their closings, and Rev. Edwards led everyone in Gospel music.

In an event like this, it's nearly impossible to get nuanced takes on issues. Let me give you snippets from each candidate.

David Clark - Donald Trump has set the bar of morality so low that even the Devil himself is on higher ground.

Rick Daugherty: He mentioned several times that he has the best job in the world and thinks that a Congressional job is lousy.

Greg Edwards: "College is no longer a pathway out of poverty. It is a pathway into it."

John Morganelli: Since he has been DA, the office has gone from one female assistant DA to over 50% female, along with African Americans and Hispanics. He supports health care for all, fixing student debt and protecting Medicare and Medicaid.

Roger Ruggles: Supports unions and was surprised to discover recently that only six percent of the private work force is union.

Susan Wild: Told the mostly young audience that they are worse off than their parents were, but "I will never run from a fight. I head for a fight every time I see one.".

The audience was packed with Greg Edwards and Susan Wild supporters, who cheered their candidates while booing down John Morganelli when he tried to explain why, unlike the other candidates, he thinks local authorities should cooperate with ICE.

"May I explain?" he asked. But the mob was unwilling to listen and shouted him down. This is what always kills me about supposed progressives. They hold themselves out as enlightened but are intolerant of views that differ from theirs. Moderator Smith made no effort to stop this display of intolerance.

Later, Morganelli complimented the mostly young audience for being interested, even though they shouted him down. He said they are sending ripples, and quoting from Robert Kennedy, said "those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest wall of oppression and resistance.”
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