The non-partisan non-profit Senior Statesmen of Virginia hosted the first virtual debate of the election season yesterday afternoon between Fifth district candidates Bob Good and Dr. Cameron Webb. Allison Wrabel of Charlottesville’s Daily Progress moderated the hour-long debate.
Webb, the Democratic candidate, positioned himself as a consensus builder and emphasized his experience as an advisor in the White House during both Obama and Trump administrations. Good, running on the Republican ticket, attempted to distance himself from his opponent, falsely accusing Webb of being “aligned with the radical socialist left” and claiming that Webb would “vote in lockstep with Nancy Pelosi, Jerry Nadler, Adam Schiff, and AOC.”
Here are the highlights.
Law enforcement standoff
This is the first in a series of conversations with the 2020 Fifth district congressional candidates. Each week, the Rappahannock News will gi…
“I believe in increasing, not decreasing, funding for our law enforcement and our police officers,” Good said. Good also added that he supports a “law enforcement Bill of Rights” as well as “making assault of a police officer a hate crime” and imposing “an automatic death penalty when someone kills a police officer.”
Webb said that contrary to the misinformation his opponent has attempted to spread, he stands with law enforcement and does not believe in defunding the police. “Regarding law enforcement,” he added, “my opponent has had opportunities to increase police funding, but while he was on the Board of Supervisors in Campbell County he cast the deciding vote to actually make sure that [the sheriff department’s] salaries were not even competitive with the rest of the Commonwealth,” Webb said.
As recently as 2018, Campbell County Sheriff’s Department struggled to retain deputies because the starting salary for a new deputy is as low as $34,284, compared with the starting salary of $48,719 for new employees with the Virginia State Police.
Webb and Good agree on energy independence… sort of
Webb took the question on environmental policy first and took the opportunity to agree with Bob Good on the importance of energy independence. “I think the path to [energy independence] is through clean and renewable energy sources, and the reason I think that is because that’s what the free market tells us. … I think we can do that without a Green New Deal, we can do it with common sense and with science.”
“Well,” Good said, “I would say what we agree on is that we all want clean air, we all want clean water. But the President’s energy policies are critical for us.” Good called the Democratic environmental platform “radical” and “drastic,” and said they would “surrender our energy independence.”
How will they bring rural broadband to the Fifth?
Good took the question first, touting his experience as a member of the Board of Supervisors in Campbell County. “I helped one of the neighborhoods — it was a more affluent neighborhood where the individuals had the ability to come together with a private provider to bring broadband to their neighborhood where they didn’t have it,” Good said.
“While I’m a limited government guy and a low taxes guy and a low spending guy … a deficit hawk, if you will, there’s things that only government can do and government should do and investing in rural infrastructure is one of those.”
Good said he stands with the President’s $50 billion rural infrastructure program. “It prioritizes broadband … without mandates … I’m pleased that that’s a priority here in Virginia in our state leadership and it would also be a priority for me on the federal level.”
In response, Webb said he thought “my opponent gave a great answer for what he would do if he had another term on the Campbell County Board of Supervisors. In the United States Congress we have a little bit of a different role with broadband.”
Webb gave a nod to outgoing Republican Congressman Denver Riggleman for working in a bipartisan way to bring broadband funding to the Fifth district through the USDA Reconnect program, which has funneled billions of dollars to rural broadband projects across the country.
“In the United States government … the FCC also has some funding for broadband and our work is to make sure we’re getting those dollars here … The key here is making sure that public-private partnership is achieving that last mile.”
“I do not support Medicare for all,” Webb said.
“I’ve never suggested that I support Medicare for all. Again, what my opponent has done is he lifted a single quote out of context and used it to ignore the mountain of articles and interviews I’ve done where I’ve said I support a public option and free market solutions as well.”
Webb stressed that he believes the 30 million uninsured Americans should have a public option so that they can get access to care. “But as a physician I see every day how critical the private insurance space is, how critical private innovation in health care is to delivering the care my patients need.”
Yet, Good continued to allege that Webb “embraces all the elements of the radical left on health care. They want single-payer health care, they want the government public option on health care.”
Good called the Affordable Care Act a “lie.” “Remember they told us it was going to drive down prices? That didn’t happen. It was going to improve quality? That didn’t happen. It was going to improve options? That didn’t happen … I am in favor of market-driven patient-centric reforms that protect employer-provided health care,” Good said.
Good advocated for reducing regulations, encouraging marketplace competition, and allowing self-employed individuals to pool together to acquire health insurance.
Both Good and Webb have vocalized a desire to end surprise medical billing and lower costs for health care consumers.
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