Shireen Ghorbani showed up to Dixie State University ready to debate with a disarming smile and poise that helped her deliver responses with confidence. It wasn’t just the thousands who watched the debate that were captivated by her skillful way of putting what she stands for front and center even Rep. Chris Stewart agreed with her and complimented her several times throughout the debate -he may just end up voting for her.
Utah Policy published a recent poll for Utah’s second congressional district that showed Stewart at 45% and Democratic challenger Shireen Ghorbani at 34%. If the 16% of undecided voters in that poll watched her performance tonight the congressman has a real reason to worry.
From thoughtful use of anecdotal experience in her own life to a call for “fiscal responsibility” Ghorbani ran her side of the debate with the fitness of a well-rounded boxer knowing when to jab and when to follow through on a hard cross.
In a rebuttal after Stewart said he supported the Lake Powell pipeline, Ghorbani mentioned her concerns about conservation efforts in tandem with the cost associated with the pipeline -It’s a $1.5 billion-dollar project. When she was finished -but after an applause from the audience- Stewart said, “I’d like to affirm her rebuttal in other words agree with it”.
When asked how healthcare could be made more affordable in the state of Utah, Stewart painted the affordable care act as a lie and thumped on it as an expensive failure. When it was Ghorbani’s turn she purposefully started off by saying she agreed with President Trump on allowing Medicare to negotiate prescription drug costs at a federal level and called for more responsible spending but that this would be difficult because the current congress is “bought and sold by the pharmaceutical industry.”
Ghorbani didn’t stick to a safe talk track, she clearly stated what her campaign was about and called Stewart on the carpet about his voting against the Affordable Care Act 40 times. “I don’t see leadership on that issue from you or your party,” she went on to say.
She was unapologetic in her defense of preserving Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid while calling out where the federal government has been playing it fast and loose with the national deficit.
“We are overspending on corporate giveaways -corporate tax cuts would be a really nice place to start- and we can think about prioritizing everyday working families over the $1.9 trillion we gave away in tax breaks to the wealthiest and our corporations,” she said.
Throughout the debate both domestic and foreign issues were tackled. Ghorbani didn’t stutter in any answers, she faced questions head on.
Yesterday’s showing wasn’t a slugfest by any stretch, but I took notice -others noticed too I’m sure- Ghorbani didn’t flinch, she didn’t take one step back, she kept moving forward at a tempered pace.
If Ghorbani can court undecided voters and if she code switches her language as she did in yesterday’s debate, she’s got a chance at winning this thing.