Alabama Governor candidates Ron Sparks and Dr. Robert Bentley had their first debate on September 16, 2010 at the University of Alabama televised on Alabama Public Television. The questions asked of the Republican and Democratic candidates for Governor of Alabama were collected from Alabama voters. Democrat Ron Sparks and Republican Dr. Robert Bentley started by outlining their plans to fund the Alabama education system and then moved into the economy, the BP oil spill, and the Federal Health care Bill. The differences between Ron Sparks and Robert Bentley in the debate were centered around gambling, the lottery, and how to create jobs.
Ron Sparks stated that he believed the way to fund and fix the education system in Alabama was to pass a bill to legalize gambling and the lottery and then tax those profits. Commissioner Sparks also believed that jobs could be created through gambling and the creation of a State of Alabama gaming commission. Sparks also proposed a plan to rebuild roads, bridges, and other infrastructure as a way to create jobs.
Dr. Robert Bentley stated in the debate that he believed the way to fund the Alabama education system was to create more jobs and therefore more tax revenue. Dr. Bentley also made it very obvious during the debate that he was opposed to the legalization of gambling or the lottery in Alabama. Instead, Bentley focused on cutting taxes from the top down in order to create jobs. Dr. Bentley also claimed that Ron Sparks’ infrastructure proposal was actually something that he himself had pioneered.
Ron Sparks and Dr. Robert Bentley seemed to agree on a lot of job and tax related issues outside of the gambling issue. These two candidates for Governor of Alabama did disagree on health care and the BP oil spill issue however. Dr. Robert Bentley told about his intense disapproval of the Federal Health Care Bill. Ron Sparks disagreed with Bentley about this issue but managed to steer clear of showing his support for the bill. Both candidates believed that BP should pay for damages to the state of Alabama but argued back and forth on exactly how to go about it. Sparks and Bentley also both agreed that the Alabama Constitution needed to be changed one Amendment at a time.
Ron Sparks came off as a better politician and public speaker in this first debate. Sparks had the last word and used that time to toss a couple of jabs towards his opponent because he knew Bentley would not be allowed to respond. Dr. Robert Bentley on the other hand seemed to be more straight forward and to the point with his timely use of facts that could not be avoided. All in all I would say Ron Sparks won this debate in the court of public opinion but not by a huge margin. The next debate between Sparks and Bentley will be in a month from Auburn University and should be fun to watch.