Hello! The candidates are in Vancouver, WA. Goldy and I are in our blog caves. The livestream is right here. And if you have lots and lots of cable channels, this debate is also airing live on what I'm told is KOMO's "second digital channel," channel 114 on Comcast.

Should be starting soon...

Eli: Here we go. You ready Goldstein?

Goldy: Ready.

Eli: The set's looking a little cramped tonight.

Goldy: And the sound on my stream isn't quite synced up with the video. Which for some reason, makes McKenna seem more lifelike than usual.

Eli: Big contrast on light rail to start off with. Inslee comes out strongly for putting it over the Columbia Crossing. McKenna, a longtime light rail opponent, not so much.

Goldy: And of course, Inslee wins this election if he wins big in King County, and we LOVE light rail. So that's a smart tact.

Eli: Also, he came off as having the more realistic understanding of the situation, pointing out that federal funding for the crossing requires light rail.


Goldy: McKenna is talking numbers again. Which, from past performance, I assume are made up.

Goldy: Shorter McKenna: "Job creators!"

Eli: Interesting that Inslee, now talking about McKenna's health care lawsuit, isn't linking him explicitly to the lawsuit. Missed opportunity.

Goldy: Yeah, but he called it the "Republican attorneys general lawsuit." So I think people get it.

Eli: Uh oh. McKenna was ready for that, even if it wasn't linked directly to him. Brings up his mother, who had breast cancer. Says he deeply resents Inslee bringing up the problems his lawsuit would have created for breast cancer survivors.

Goldy: McKenna "deeply resents" politics. He's deeply resentful. He's also spinning the ACA lawsuit into a win. Amazing. (Inslee: McKenna spinning ACA lawsuit into win "is like Custer wining Little Bighorn.")

Goldy: I think McKenna comes off as a little angry.

Eli: Yes. He's more testy this time. On to higher ed...

Eli: Inslee: "Lean management, lean management, lean management." McKenna attacks that as platitudes lacking specifics.

Goldy: It's funny to hear McKenna constantly run against Olympia when he's been in Olympia the past 8 years, and Inslee is the Olympia outsider.

Eli: Good Inslee comeback here. Linking McKenna to this year's Republican budget coup and its effect on education funding. Now... Coal train!

Goldy: In general, McKenna has spent much more time on the attack than Inslee. Inslee just comes off as more positive.

Goldy: McKenna surrenders on coal. We can't do anything to stop the coal trains. So let's build the terminals here. Bold governance.

Eli: Inslee makes a local economic case against the coal trains, in that they'd totally disrupt small towns like Washugal (sp?) by stretching two miles long and coming through 18 times a day.

Goldy: Inslee takes a much more nuanced and thoughtful approach on coal. Don't know if most voters would appreciate it, but I do.

Eli: Next: Liquor! Can the candidates do anything about the mistake voters made in privatizing our liquor distribution and sales system??? Because it's so EXPENSIVE now!!!!

Goldy: I think the correct answer to this liquor question is that voters should have listened to me instead of my booze-addled colleagues at The Stranger.

Eli: Next question! Can you lower the sales tax to zero, like in Oregon??? (May I suggest a better question: Since we're standing here on the border with Oregon, which doesn't have a sales tax and is doing all right, why are we in Washington so over-reliant on our sales tax again?)

Goldy: If this were a race for Chief of Staff I think McKenna would be winning this debate. But it's a race for Governor.


Eli: Nice to hear Inslee talking about sunsetting tax loopholes.

Goldy: Inslee threw out a number that felt wrong: a million more people in Washington since 2000. Googled it. He's right.

Goldy: McKenna is attacking Inslee for possibly, maybe might wanting to raise taxes in the future even though he says he won't raise taxes. McKenna can see the future, I guess.

Eli: McKenna swings back hard on his tax returns, says he won't be playing Inslee's games on this. Says he rejects the idea that he should disclose them.

Goldy: McKenna gets sarcastic. Camera zooms in on Luke Esser laughing.

Goldy: One thing I've learned from these first two debates is that of the two, McKenna would make the better blogger. (And I don't mean that as a compliment.)

Eli: He wouldn't have to worry about people finding anything in his tax returns in that job!

Goldy: He'd barely have to file in that job.


Eli: Inslee asks McKenna about a statement one of his supporters made linking him to Scott Walker. McKenna: "What he said, if you actually read what he said instead of just reading your own press release..." Still testy.

Goldy: I like testy. But I think it makes McKenna come off as looking like a bit of a dick. Again, Inslee continues to come off as the more positive candidate.

Goldy: More sarcasm, another closeup of a jolly Luke Esser.

Eli: More condescension from McKenna toward Inslee, this time on the 2/3 majority requirement.

Eli: Wow, that was an incredibly dumb lightning round. "Clams or mussels?"

Goldy: I'm not sure that it's fair to call one candidate or the other the winner. Different voters will find different qualities appealing. But if anybody was thinking Inslee's performance in the last debate was an outlier, this disproves it. Inslee is just plain better at this politics thing than a lot of observers had expected. And... I think McKenna is not as good a politician as the conventional thinking said he was a year ago.

Eli: Agree Inslee did well. I do think McKenna may have been effective in certain moments, with certain segments of the audience, in his attempts to "school" Inslee on various things. Seems that was part of McKenna's agenda tonight: Condescend, lecture, correct, and make Inslee look like he didn't know what he was talking about. Inslee didn't back down from those confrontations, though, which served him well.

Goldy: I just don't think Inslee is playing the role the McKenna camp expected him to play, and that continues to flummox them. They underestimated Inslee. And they continue to underestimate him. And that touch of arrogance has prevented them from making the needed adjustments.

Eli: Well, that touch of arrogance was certainly present tonight in the way McKenna spoke to Inslee about health care reform, taxes, and tax returns. I would be very interested to see how that played with voters... If I believed many of them were watching this. If they are politically interested types, they were probably watching the GOP convention.