It was pouring rain last night on The College of New Jersey’s Ewing campus for the debate of CD12 combatants Dr. Alieta Eck and Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman. Hard to find the Mayo Concert Hall in the dark. Note to college: more lighting. And the parking lot wasn’t anywhere near it. Nevertheless, it was a packed house. And that was great. Made for many lively moments of engagement from the noisy audience of students and local politicos, to the frustration of the moderator.
This district, Rush Holt’s until January, is not competitive. Only late-breaking scandal or, you know, a massive comet will change the outcome. Bonnie Watson Coleman for the win. And that was reflected in the debate. Both women were confident and smooth in their delivery; they are both forces to be dealt with.
But Eck was overmatched. She really had nothing much beyond the old right-wing chestnuts. Obamacare is baaaad. Taxes baaaad. Trickle-down economics yay! That stuff might fly in some other, gerrymandered-for-GOP congressional district (though Roy Cho is testing that idea like a boss in CD5) but this is Rush Holt territory.
That said, it wasn’t the politicos in the room that drove the response, it was the students. From the start, Eck read the room wrong. Her opening statement was about herself, BWC’s was about the university and students, and a little of herself. Eck’s closing was off, too. While BWC closed making her best case of what she had to offer, Eck spent her time talking about her opponent.