If you decide to spend only one night paying any attention to the race for congress in Virginia's 7th district, make that night tonight.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, one of the most powerful politicians in American, will meet face to face with his opponent Wayne Powell in a debate to be broadcast from coast to coast on CSPAN-2. Cantor is widely expected to win another term in congress with ease, but if Powell hopes to dust up the republican, tonight would be the night.
Powell's campaign is being assisted by the charismatic democratic political operative Dave "Mudcat" Saunders. Saunders helped Jim Webb upset George Allen in 2006 and helped North Carolina Sen. John Edwards during his bid for president.
Saunders has taken the Powell campaign national and regularly appears on liberal talk shows denouncing Cantor, while at the same time helping Powell raise cash. While Powell is not very well known, Cantor is and democrats all over the country have sent in donations to help the campaign to put the republican out of office.
Despite Powell's success in that department, his fund raising war chest is dwarfed by his highly connected opponent. If the democrat hopes to have any chance of seriously challenging Cantor, tonight's debate may offer the opportunity to give his campaign some legitimacy. If he can perform well, that could lead to more money giving him the chance put up more television ads like this one, the campaign just released:
The Cantor campaign is prepared to absorb any attack from Powell. Cantor's team knows the only way for Powell to make quick gains is to attack and do so hard. They are anticipating a negative onslaught from his campaign in the closing weeks of the race.
“Wayne Powell is demonstrating to us what is wrong with politics in Washington today," said Cantor aide Ray Allen in a prepared statement. " No ideas, no vision and no solutions, just partisan, negative attacks. That is no way to offer your service to the voters and Mr. Powell should be ashamed.”
We will see if that onslaught begins tonight on national TV.
Here are the details of the Virginia Chamber of Commerce Cantor/Powell debate:
7th District Congressional Debate
October 1, 2012 at 7:00PM
*Attendance at the debate required pre-registration and that has already closed.
The debate will be broadcast live on C-SPAN2 on cable and streamed at https://www.c-span.org/Live-Video/C-SPAN2/.
I'll be at the debate tonight. We will have a complete wrap coming up tonight on NBC12 News at 11.