OK, the debate included the Libertarian candidate (David Nolan) and the Green candidate (Jerry Joslyn), but the featured players were Democrat Rodney Glassman and Republican John McCain.
I'll do a full recap when the video archive is posted (either on Glassman's campaign website or on KTVK's), but I can give a summary now -
Glassman did well, but I don't think he landed a knockout blow.
Republicans will still vote for McCain and Democrats will still vote for Glassman. Glassman may have moved a few independent voters, but he's going to need more than a "few" to pull off the upset of the year in politics.
Best line of the night:
"If we want to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, we need to reduce the number of our senators dependend on fossil fuel contributions." - Rodney Glassman
Most awkward moment of the night:
When asked to describe his legislative legacy when compared to great Arizona senators of yore like Carl Hayden (Central Arizona Project) and Ernest McFarland (original GI Bill).
McCain's response -
That answer may be one of the most completely honest things that McCain said during the entire debate.
He has no actual accomplishments anymore. He had a few things that he could point to, but in his quest to move far enough right to win the GOP presidential nomination in 2008 and to turn back the challenge of JD Hayworth this year, he has turned his back on everything good he has ever done in D.C. (McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform law, DREAM Act sponsorship, etc.)
He can't point to work on bringing projects to Arizona - that would be out of character for his "anti-earmark" persona. Hell, Rick Renzi (Rick freakin' Renzi!) did a better job of that (projects on the Navajo reservation were the main reason he could win re-election in a D-leaning district.)
He can't point to his success fighting earmarks and out-of-control federal spending - earmarks are still around (full disclosure: I don't think that all earmarks are bad, but they should be for public works projects and should be completely transparent) and the U.S. has waged two fantastically expensive off-the-books wars with his enthusiastic support. Hell, Jeff Flake has been more effective on earmarks than the far more senior McCain, and Flake has had almost no success on the issue.
He can't even point to work on veterans' issues - other than occasionally employing a few for campaign ads, he has done nothing for veterans, despite being one himself (a fact that he always points out, while blithely ignoring his lack of effort on behalf of his fellow vets). Hell, Harry Mitchell has done more for America's (and Arizona's) veterans in four years than McCain has done in nearly three decades in D.C.
Still, Glassman didn't do as well as he could have, or will need to, in order to defeat McCain.
Still2, McCain didn't put away Glassman. After the primary debate, Hayworth was toast. However, Glassman held his own Sunday night. The next five or so weeks should be very interesting.
My friend Eric summed it up best when he wrote on Facebook that Glassman needs to run as McCain2K against McCain2K10.
John McCain circa 2000 was somebody people could respect and even vote for while disagreeing with him on specific issues.
John McCain circa 2010 looks more like a tired reactionary hack than the energetic maverick that he was just 10 years ago.
OK. That really was more a recap than the short comment that I had started writing. It took so long that KTVK has already posted its story on the debate, complete with links to the video.
It took so long that Tedski at Rum, Romanism, and Rebellion has already posted twice on the debate, here and here.