The final candidate debate in the 93rd House District was scheduled for Wednesday evening at Christopher Newport University. As we noted in our previous post it was expected the Robin Abbott, the Democrat candidate would be a no show and that expectation was fulfilled. Her empty chair spoke pointedly about her unwillingness to discuss public issues in public with the voters she proposed to represent. It also highlighted that a candidate who cannot face her opponent or the public cannot have a claim to be prepared to legislate for that public.
The more important part of the story though is what followed the introductions and notice of the empty chair. On stage was Joel Rubin, long time public affairs interview format host and Delegate Phil Hamilton. One on one, no prepared script, no advance questions, no novices. What the audience received was a tour de force presentation of the art, substance and subtlety of Virginia legislative politics as only Phil Hamilton could deliver it, with clarity, nuance and depth of knowledge.
From health care, to the budget process, to education spending, places to adjust the budget, Hamilton demonstrated effortlessly the value he delivers to his 93rd district constituents, and to the Commonwealth. It is not often that voters get to hear the real truth, that there are no free roads, no easy solutions and no part of the budget is up for grabs. The state budget, all of it, is a sacred cow to some constituency and to some delegate, or the money would not be set aside for that purpose in the budget. The practical art is working with the priorities to fashion a budget bill that can fit within the revenue available and pass both legislative houses. The Phil Hamilton's insight seemed a cake walk.
Robin Abbott should have been there. She missed a master lesson from a legislative master of the political art. The voters of the 93rd should have no doubt that Phil Hamilton should continue to serve as their delegate.