The Cornyn-Noriega debate
Fri October 17, 2008 1:41 am

I just drove in from Dallas after serving on the media panel for the debate. I thought that both Cornyn and Noriega did well. The questions seemed to favor Cornyn; for example, one panelist asked Noriega about his role in the walkout by the "Killer D's" during the redistricting fight in 2003. That was a gimme, and Cornyn got to criticize Noriega for "cutting and running." Cornyn also got more air time than Noriega. (It is very hard to keep up with this.)

For me, the biggest surprise was that Noriega has become a much better candidate since I last saw him in a debate, which was at the UT Young Democrats shortly before the primary. Noriega was awful that night against his primary opponent, James McMurrey. He was still acting like Colonel Noriega. It's hard to criticize him; military service in the Middle East has affected him deeply. Last night, he dropped the Col. Noriega persona altogether. I thought he was impressive. If he had $5 million and five weeks, he might make a race of it. He can't do anything about the calendar, but he might be able to get the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee to toss some money his way. There was buzz among the Noriega retinue about a poll that they hinted would show Noriega narrowing Cornyn's lead.

Need I remind you that Cornyn is not the most dynamic politician Texas has produced? But he is both competent and confident under pressure. He has a reassuring manner that serves him well. He and Noriega put on a good show. I was glad to be part of it, even if I didn't get to ask my question about the Iraq war.

Noriega has come a very long way in a short time. I can't envision him overtaking Cornyn, but stranger things have happened this year. You can view the debate on the KERA web site.

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