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Virginia Governor’s Debate: The Morning After

Ben Tribbett of NotLarrySabato did a great job organizing and moderating the Virginia Governor’s debate last night.  The livestream went off without a hitch and I had a great time posing questions with Nico Pitney of the Huffington Post and David Grant of the collegiate times. 

We tried to choose questions that wouldn’t elicit canned responses from the candidates, and also to bring up things that people were asking in the twitter feed as they watched the debate.  

I think the question that took them most by surprise was one about Smithfield Foods:

According to the Wall Street Journal, many residents of La Gloria, Mexico believe that the recent outbreak of the swine flu was caused by waste from a pig breeding farm co-owned by Virginia-based Smithfield Foods.  The EPA has sued Smithfield in the past for dumping illegal levels of hog waste into Virginia waters.  1)  Have you taken any money from Smithfield’s PAC, its employees or former employees and 2) As governor, how will you ensure that Virginia is protected from conditions that may have led to the outbreak of the swine flu in Mexico?

Deeds had the bad fortune to be first to answer, and he also appears to have taken some money from them in the past, though not much that I can find — as Brian noted, they principally give to Republicans.   (Update:  As BlueVA notes, Smithfield has given $2000 to Moran, $1250 to Deeds and $52,842 to Bob McDonnell — jh)  But with swine flu something that many people are worried about right now, and Smithfield being headquartered in Smithfield Virginia, it’s something that will no doubt come up again.

The most heartfelt question came from David Grant of Virginia Tech’s Collegiate Times, who also did a terrific job organizing the debate on campus.   Two weeks ago marked the second anniversary of the Virginia Tech shootings, and he wanted to know what the candidates intended to do about closing the gun show loophole.  I hope that whoever wins, they take seriously their promise to him to work hard and close it.

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Jane Hamsher

Jane Hamsher

Jane is the founder of Her work has also appeared on the Huffington Post, Alternet and The American Prospect. She’s the author of the best selling book Killer Instinct and has produced such films Natural Born Killers and Permanent Midnight. She lives in Washington DC.
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