Dems go head-to-head at debate for 21st district

He wasn't the only one though, as Brooks also took a shot at Tonko's support of energy deregulation during his tenure in the state's Assembly.

Tonko got his 30 seconds, and a little more, to tell Brooks he respects her opinions but she couldn't use her "own set of facts," as he blamed the Republican George Pataki administration for going around the state's Assembly to pass its own energy policies in the state.

All the candidates got a chance to defend themselves, even for comments made during closing statements, as when Steck said Brooks was working for a lobbying firm and Brooks rebutted that she was a lawyer working for a law firm, not a lobbying firm.

The biggest reaction from the crowd came when Brooks asked Steck during her question period if he would still support her as a Democrat if she won the primary, and would he work together with the Democratic Party to put her in office and defeat the Republican challenger for the congressional seat.

Steck's response sent a flurry of murmurs around the room.

"Well, unlike my colleague over here who spent her early years in the Republican Party and then in the Independence Party, I've been a lifelong Democrat," Steck said. "I've been a Democratic chairman, I have worked hard to support the candidates in the Democratic Party, and there's no reason to assume that this election would be any different."

Aside from a few occasional differences, the Democrats agreed with one another on a number of the issues, to the point where several jokes were made throughout the night about the similar answers among the candidates.

Steck opened up the debate stating he wanted to end the "corrupting power of lobbyist and special interest" and cited his work as a civil rights and labor attorney to paint himself as a candidate of "real hope" and change.

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