Dubuque was represented during both nights of this week’s second round of debates for the Democratic presidential primary.

Iowa Rep. Lindsay James, D-Dubuque, attended the first night of debate in Detroit as a guest of U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s presidential campaign. And local father-son activist duo made the trek to Detroit on night two.

James said she had been invited to attend by several candidates. Klobuchar, of Minnesota, was just the first to offer. James said her attendance was not tantamount to an endorsement.

James was amazed by the production needed to realize Tuesday’s debate in the historic Fox Theatre in downtown Detroit.

“The amount of media it takes and staff to pull off a major debate like that is pretty incredible,” she said.

She said she was also inspired by the diversity of both candidates and the crowd present.

“It was incredibly encouraging to be in a huge theater with so many passionate Democrats from around the country,” James said. “There was socioeconomic and racial diversity in the room. There was diversity in political thought and perspective. One of the exciting things about the Democratic Party is that we are a big-tent party with a lot of philosophies, concerns and strategies. To hear a robust dialogue about what brought each candidate to the table gets me excited about a new way forward in our country.”

James returned to Dubuque in time for the second night of debate, which she watched at Denny’s Lux Club, her two children in tow, with the Dubuque County Democrats.

“To see it live in Detroit one night and back in Dubuque watching with my constituents the second night was fantastic,” she said. “Here in Iowa, we’re attaching our very real local concerns to these big ideas. When I was home in-district, I was able to hear from the Iowans about what they’re excited about.”

Dubuque residents Bill and Kyle Stumpf were guests of U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, of New York, at the second night of the debates. The pair met the presidential candidate at one of her local events.

Gillibrand has focused on disability issues more than most candidates thus far, promising to name a person with a disability to her cabinet should she win in 2020. That’s important to the Stumpf family, as Kyle has Down syndrome.

Bill said that not only were he and his son able to spend more time with Gillibrand and her staff in Detroit, but they also were able to experience live some memorable moments from the debate.

For instance, they were only 20 rows up from a group of four protesters who were escorted out after chanting in support of the firing of the NYPD officer responsible for the 2014 choking death of Eric Garner, an event that kicked off widespread protests across the U.S.

Bill also said the tone of the debate was exciting to witness.

“I know there has been some criticism in how they were moderated, but I thought they were moderated very well. But I am a CNN fan,” Bill said. “I think some people went over the top. (New York) Mayor (Bill) de Blasio talked over people. But people in the audience seemed not to like that.”

CNN visits Denny’s Lux Club

Local viewers at the Dubuque County Democrats’ second night of debate watch parties got to share their feedback more directly than most, as a CNN crew was on scene.

The crew watched the entire debate at Denny’s Lux Club, 3050 Asbury Road, before interviewing attendees. Only some of those made it onto CNN’s broadcast of the event.

One, recent Loras College graduate Trevor Fannon, told CNN the second night reminded him of “a family vacation” because it was so argumentative. Later, he told the Telegraph Herald why he thought that might be.

“It’s interesting to see them be this combative this early,” he said. “CNN also did an interesting job of situating things so that (the candidates) were able to be combative like that. But we’re going to have to get there eventually no matter what.”

Dan Knepper said he found the tension between candidates to be off-putting and often too focused on background instead of issues.

“They attack each other too much about the past,” he said.

Dorothy Kane, at the same table, agreed.

“Things have changed,” she said. “People have evolved. The country has evolved.”

DURBIN TAKES AIM AGAIN AT OPIOIDS

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., urged the federal Drug Enforcement Administration to use the authority the agency got from legislation he penned with Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., to prevent and limit the pharmaceutical industry’s high opioid production levels.

Durbin and Kennedy wrote the 2018 bill that enhanced the DEA’s existing authority to set quotas so the agency could prevent opioid diversion and abuse, according to a release.

“While we appreciate the initial steps taken in recent years to reduce the aggregate production quotas for schedule II opioids, we remain concerned that they are still far too high,” the senators wrote in a letter to acting DEA Administrator Uttam Dhillon this week. “Approximately 13 billion opioid doses were put on the market in 2017 — enough for every adult American to have at least a three-week prescription of painkillers. As powerful painkillers are aggressively marketed and prescribed at high rates, this sheer volume of available opioids heightens the risk for illicit diversion and abuse.”

CALENDAR

  • 1 to 3 p.m. today, Flora Park, 2605 Pennsylvania Ave. — James will host a Corn Boil fundraiser. Admission is a $25 campaign donation. Admission includes food.
  • 3 to 7 p.m. today, Dubuque Shooting Society, 10380 U.S. 52 — The event is the Dubuque County Republican Party’s annual summer picnic and social. Admission is $20 for adults and $5 for kids younger than 10. Guns and licensed NRA instructors will be available for lessons.

6:15 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 6, Downtown Lounge, 1992 Main St., New Vienna — The Dubuque County Democrats will hold a “Social Club” visit in a campaign to stress the “County” in the group’s name.

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