I expected Bill Frank and Sue Aumann to perform strongly, and they did.
But the story of the night for me was John Fiastro. Someone told me recently that Steve Lafferty was feeling a little nervous about the race. After tonight I can see why.
This was the first time that I had heard John speak at length in public.
He had an easy presence on stage and I got the feeling that he could talk equally well with new immigrants (he majored in Spanish at Towson), business people, college professors and just plain regular folks.
Some of his opponents sounded like they were reading from PowerPoint slides. John had more of a storytelling style, mixing in humor and literate references to good effect. He was clear, with few wasted words.
Even though he was strong on the budget and Maryland's spending problem, it will be very hard for Democrats to paint John Fiastro as a heartless conservative.
In other words, Fiastro cleaned Lafferty's clock.
But don't take my word for it. Watch it yourself. The camera guy said the debate should be up on the Towerlight website soon.
UPDATE 1: Oz Bengur was the best of the Dems. But I had expected him to be more dynamic than he was. He said some good things about his private sector experience with Papa John's.
[UPDATE 3: Now that I have seen two of Mr. Bengur's sleazy attack mailers I am downgrading him to worst of the Dems. His ads led me to consider which circle Bengur belongs in. I think it's the 8th.]
I had heard some good things about Lori Albin from a friend, but she came across as the worst of the lot. Too much bland "I'll be fighting for you" stuff. She talked a lot about how she was going to work hard and read all the bills. Sounded like a bureaucrat.
UPDATE 2: Four video excerpts from the debate here.
Truth in advertising: I've been coordinating with the "CAFF" slate (Carney/Aumann/Frank/Fiastro) during this campaign because of my volunteer work for Bob Ehrlich.