By Peter MacArthur 10:57am, October 16, 2012 - Updated 1:29pm, October 16, 2012Jobs were the prime focus of a debate between the candidates for governor of Delaware Tuesday morning on WDEL.
Republican Jeff Cragg took Democratic incumbent Jack Markell to task on the issue of jobs, and the deals the state struck with companies to do business here.
Cragg: "These 'Hail Mary' deals that we did with Fisker and Bloom, throwing tens of millions of dollars at a handful of companies, trying to pick winners and losers, and unfortunately doing what happens often in those cases - picking losers, has left us with a chronic unemployment problem."
Markell: "We could either fight to do everything we could to put people back to work and have people make things again in Delaware, or we could give up on those workers. And if Mr. Cragg had his way, we would have an empty building, a decaying factory, and a rusting refinery. I wasn't going to give up on those workers."
Green Party candidate Mark Perri also took part. He says jobs are lacking in corporate America and states should do more to help individuals carve out career paths for themselves, rather than relying on companies to decide whether to hire or not.
Cragg: "I chafe at that kind of policy, where the state is directly investing in businesses to the detriment of all of us."
Markell: "I don't think he answered the question. My view is that businesses have more choices than they ever had before about where to locate. And that is the world that we live in."
Perri: "I don't see where we can second guess the deals that have been made. I think Jack's right, you have to compete. You have to make these deals."
On the topic of education, Delaware's Race to the Top money was discussed. Cragg calls the results underwhelming. Governor Markell says, one year in, initiatives are showing promise. And Green Party candidate Mark Perri says the state's teachers are the stars of the show.
Cragg: "For every child we have who is meeting our goals of graduating workforce ready or college ready, we have a child who is not doing that. That's a grave concern to me."
Markell: "Well, first of all, we are making great strides. Last year, for the school year ending in June, we have ten-thousand more students proficient in reading than compared to the previous year. 9,000 more kids are proficient in math. And Mr. Cragg is complaining about Race To The Top and the results from last year. Last year was the first full year of implementation of Race To The Top. So we're already seeing a significant impact in one year."
Perri: "The teachers resist...they teach to the test....forces that these top down programs bring."
Markell refused to say for certain about whether he'd finish a full term in Delaware if offered a national post. He says he's had no such discussion with the Obama camp on that.
Cragg, who's pressed the issue with the governor, vowed that he would fill out all four years if elected.
The candidates also had a clear difference of opinion on the issue of gay marriage. Markell and Perri said they support it. Cragg says he does not, and he would veto a bill legalizing gay marriage if approved by the legislature.
The debate was moderated by WDEL's Mellany Armstrong.
The candidates also discussed the Delaware Prison system, expansion of gambling, wind power, and health care costs and the expansion of Medicaid.
WDEL's Amy Cherry, who was a panelist for the debate, tweeted the positions of the candidates on those issues and more. Click here to see her coverage.
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