Kratovil And Harris Hold Spirited Debate

“Three candidates in Maryland’s 1st Congressional District race held their first debate on Maryland’s Eastern Shore in a closely watched race for a seat opened up by the incumbent’s loss in the primary. Republican state Senator Andrew Harris and Queen Anne’s County State’s Attorney and Democrat Frank Kratovil frequently sparred, bringing a lively mixture of applause, cheers, and even boos from the crowd at Salisbury University. Libertarian Richard Davis stayed above the fray, using the opportunity to introduce his positions to the audience. Harris and Kratovil battled over their positions on the environment, particularly how to clean up the troubled Chesapeake Bay.

Harris called for a federal solution to reduce pollution and regional cooperation from neighboring states. Kratovil accused Harris of having one of the worst environmental records in the Maryland General Assembly. Harris said he supported developing renewable energy, and he countered that Kratovil was simply parroting environmental lobbyists who have given Harris low marks on the environment. Harris told Kratovil he should not be so eager to listen to lobbyists, particularly since Kratovil has campaigned for change in Washington.

The candidates also answered questions about the nation’s financial crisis and the war in Iraq. Davis said he needed to know more about the implications of the $700-billion plan, but he said he would have voted against it based on what he knew. Harris, who pledged to support middle-class families if elected, said he would have voted against the plan, describing it as a payout of taxpayer dollars “”to people who didn’t play by the rules”” on Wall Street. Kratovil said he did not believe the plan did enough to protect taxpayers. He said lawmakers need to focus on the problems that got the nation in the fiscal jam to begin with, namely corporate greed and lack of oversight.

On the war, Kratovil said he believed it was a mistake to invade Iraq without support from other countries. He also said it was time to end the “”occupation”” and get soldiers the benefits they need. Harris took issue with Kratovil’s use of the word “”occupation,”” saying Iraq was “”liberated”” by U.S. troops. Harris also said the decision of when to bring troops home should be left to the “”generals on the ground, the experts in that field of waging warfare.”” Davis said he believed it was wrong to go to war in Iraq, but now that U.S. troops are there, he said an election should be held in Iraq for citizens to decide whether U.S. soldiers should remain.