2 of 3 Democratic Senate candidates debate ahead of July 14th primary

Published: Jul. 8, 2020 at 11:47 PM EDT
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Two of the three Democratic candidates for the U.S. Senate faced off Wednesday night on a wide variety of topics from the coronavirus pandemic to schools reopening.

The debate, hosted by our media partner WMTW, featured candidates Betsy Sweet and Bre Kidman and aired on TV-5.

The debate getting underway Wednesday night addressing the empty seat in the room.

Candidate Sara Gideon declined to take part.

“This primary matters because it has been treated like it doesn’t matter. The Democratic senatorial campaign committee all over this country has hand-picked candidates in races, every single competitive race in this country, and they have handpicked candidates that are against the things that Mainers are for," Kidman said.

“The divide is really between a political and economical elite that has really left the values and issues of Mainers behind. Imagine spending millions and millions of dollars already talking about sort of a sandbox fight when we don’t have jobs.," Sweet said.

“Do you think this the race tipped in one candidate's favor by the party apparatus?”

“Money should not equal political legitimacy. Money does not translate to a greater ability to do the job. We need a system that is responsive to what our people actually look like," Kidman said.

“The old playbook of raising millions and millions of dollars to raise negative ads is not going to work because it’s not what Maine people need. We want to know what solutions we have and how we are going to move forward on these really hard issues," Sweet said.

The U.S. Senate race is turning out to be one the most expensive ever. The candidates were asked if they won the nomination how would they face a well-funded campaign on the other side.

“We got money out Maine’s elections from the Clean Elections Act. We were horrified then that a state senate race could cost $6,000 to run. Mainers, we have the opportunity to reject that," Sweet said.

“Nobody ever saw an advertisement and thought, gee whiz, that sounds great. Whereas if you do things, good things for your community, you show up for your community and you do the right thing, people talk about you to your friends and neighbors," Kidman added.

The candidates highlighted the effects the coronavirus pandemic has had on Mainers.

“We need to focus on people who are actually struggling who are actually unable to pay rent or their mortgages. We need to focus on people who are going hungry," Kidman said.

“The push to open quickly and across the country is because we haven’t taken the economic care of our citizens. We need to have more available testing and rapid testing, and I think we have to make sure rents and mortgages are frozen and the $600 unemployment bump stays in place," Sweet said.

On the reopening of schools, both candidates agree safety comes fast first.

“I don’t think it’s safe to fully reopen at this time. I don’t think it’s safe to fully reopen until we have a better understanding of what this virus is and does and how to treat it. I think ultimately, I hate to say this, I think we need to wait until there’s a vaccine," Kidman said.

“In this pandemic, I think we need to be working together to figure out what is the way to do this and we need to provide resources to both parents and to schools," Sweet said.