The Congressional candidates for Arizona's Third District debated last night at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication in Phoenix. There were a few surprises -- Democratic candidate Jon Hulburd said he doesn't know if he's qualified for the job, Republican candidate Ben Quayle finally went negative, and Libertarian candidate Michael Shoen tried to keep up as the other two candidates bashed each other over character issues.
As Quayle and Hulburd went back and forth over Quayle's ties to The Dirty -- a Scottsdale-based gossip Web site -- and defamation and slander lawsuits filed against Hulburd, Shoen seemed to feel left out of the scandal game. For no apparent reason, after watching the two spar, Shoen, a lawyer, inexplicably blurted out that he was once sued, too. He followed by saying he defended himself and won.
The unexpected announcement was met with laughter in the media room as even the other two candidates looked shocked by the admission.
It was white noise, though. All eyes were on Quayle and Hulburd.
Hulburd hit Quayle with The Dirty right out of the gate, questioning Quayle's "moral compass" in his opening statement.
Quayle didn't even mention Hulburd in his opening statement but soon went on the attack after Hulburd further pressed Quayle about The Dirty.
Quayle told Hulburd that if he wanted to focus on scandal-esque issues the two should talk about the lawsuits filed against Hulburd, first reported by New Times yesterday.
Check out the details here.
Hulburd replied by saying the lawsuits were "nuisance lawsuits" that were dismissed. He later told reporters he couldn't remember why they were dismissed.
Hulburd made a fairly shocking admission of his own. When asked if he was qualified to be a congressman, he responded with "honestly, I'm not sure I am."
Quayle accused Hulburd of spreading lies about him, particularly the claim made in one of Hulburd's campaign ads that Quayle lied about two girls in one of his campaign mailers.
The girls are Quayle's nieces but Hulburd claims Quayle lied and said they were his own children.
The ad may be somewhat misleading but Quayle never lied. He admitted the girls were his nieces from the beginning.
When asked after the debate why he lied about Quayle's lying, Hulburd dodged the question. He says the way the ad was worded made his claim truthful.
Here's how the ad was worded: "he lied about having children in a campaign mail piece."
It's pretty cut and dry. Check it out here.
At the end of the day, there was no clear victor. Each candidate can take solace in one thing: they didn't pull a Jan Brewer.