Dem Debate To Showcase Substance Over Style

Oct 12, 2015

Fred Lokken is a political science professor at Truckee Meadows Community College.
Credit Michelle Bliss

The first Democratic presidential debate will be held Tuesday evening in Las Vegas. Reno Public Radio's Julia Ritchey sat down with local professor Fred Lokken, who frequently joins us to chat about politics. 

Hillary Clinton is considered the frontrunner going into the debate, but her vulnerabilities are many, according to Lokken. 

"Unfortunately, that's all we've dealt with for the last six to eight week," he says. "We know way too much about servers and email accounts; we know too much about Benghazi still, churning along as a political issue."

Lokken says Clinton isn't alone in bringing baggage into the debate. Sen. Bernie Sanders, whose numbers have steadily risen in the polls, comes in with an agenda that is far left of many mainstream voters. 

Regardless of who "wins" this debate, Lokken says, Nevada comes out on top as the host. 

"Issues will come up in this debate, whether it's immigration and what we're going to do about that; Yucca Mountain could find it's way into this process ... all of these could really provide a dialog in the state," he says. 

The debate could potentially boost voter turnout, too, as Nevada has one of the worst records in the state in that regard.

Overall, Lokken, says, expect to see more substance than political point scoring. Most of the Democratic candidates have a wealth of public service experience to draw from and have so far avoided going negative on each other — a contrast to the first GOP debates, which generated a lot of buzz.

"We just don't know yet which candidates will benefit from this as an adventure, and which candidates will be licking their wounds because mistakes will be made," he says.

The debate airs tomorrow at 6 p.m. PST on CNN.