6:30 p.m.: An hour before the debate, I notice a Giffords side by the side of Prince Road. And then another. And another. The Giffords camp has sunk signs everywhere they could along a three-mile stretch of Prince Road leading to the debate at Flowing Wells High School.
As I arrive at Flowing Wells, I notice that the homes across the street have Giffords plastered all over their fences.
This is a repeat of the first debate, when Giffords’ volunteers plastered campaign signs all over the UA and the nearby area with signs. I’m struck by the fact that the Bee campaign hasn’t tried to counter this “shock and awe” strategy.
7 p.m.: Sen. Tim Bee arrives, getting a crowd of about 20 GOP kids excited. “Tim Bee!” the youth brigade chants. Bee starts to approach his fans, but gets pulled away by his handlers.
7:05 p.m.: Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords arrives. The Bee Youth Brigade boo loudly, then begin chanting Bee’s name again.
7:25 p.m.: The crowd—such as it is—continues to trickle in. Turnout is about equal to the number of folks who turned out to see state Senate candidates Al Melvin and Cheryl Cage debate. Several people blame the low turnout on the fact that tonight is also the final McCain-Obama debate. That’s an apt metaphor for this entire race, which has been almost completely overshadowed by national events.
7:30 p.m.: Mike Love, chair of the Flowing Wells School Board, takes the stage. In Michael Scott fashion, he launches into a long-winded introduction of the people who will be questioning the candidates, who include Mark Kimble of the Tucson Citizen, Bud Foster of KOLD-TV, and a teacher.
7:42 p.m.: Love is finally done introducing the moderators and running through their career highlights. Members of the audience are grateful the debate is about to begin—but no! Love then (more…)