Congressional Candidates, Supporters Push Hard Toward Finish

Monday night's final debate for Congressional District 1 was full of accusations and promises. Both incumbent Democrat Max Sandlin and Republican challenger Louie Gohmert went at it in this final face-off sponsored by KLTV 7 and the University of Texas at Tyler.

Voter Aaron Munn: "Tonight, I think both candidates showed their true colors -- some good, some bad."

It was plain talk that many came to UT Tyler to hear. They want to make sure their decision was the right one -- or in the case of UT Tyler student Darvy Mann, to make that choice.

Mann: "I thought a lot about both candidates, but I think Max Sandlin tended to address some of the issues for me more than Louie Gohmert did."

But voter Aaron Munn says Gohmert will be a go-getter in the House.

"I know him personally. I've met Max Sandlin a few times and I know Louie Gohmert is the right man for the job," he says.

The crowd was full of the young and old -- those who have voted many times, and those for whom this election is their first.

"Max Sandlin was on top of the issues. There are a lot of issues facing East Texas," said UT Tyler Young Democrat, Alvin Chimney.

"I think Louie Gohmert came across really well tonight. He was very honest and open in his answers," said Tyler voter, Pat Meek.

An hour of unscripted questions is no easy task-- even for the most seasoned campaigner. After the talking points, the sound bites and the TV ads, both candidates say it's time to take the final push to the people.

Louie Gohmert: "We have things scheduled every day. We'll be out in public. We'll be all across East Texas for the next eight days."

Max Sandlin: "They say there are two ways to run: unopposed and scared to death. So you just have to run hard and early and stay out late."

Where the candidates aren't, the front-line workers will be.

Sandlin supporter Alvin Chimney: "Sandlin has seniority. Gohmert doesn't have seniority. So Gohmert will be at the bottom of the totem pole when he goes to the House of Representatives."

Gohmert supporter Scott Green: "I support Louie Gohmert because no amount of hand wagging can overcome substance."

Those supporters will be touting their message that their man is the best for East Texas.

If you didn't see the debate, you can view the entire one-hour face-off straight from your computer.  Just go to the Your Vote 2004 icon on the home page and then click to watch the Sandlin-Gohmert debate.

Reported by Morgan Palmer.