The three men are all contenders for the Republican nomination for the 158th District seat in the Missouri House. All three gave opening remarks and went through four rounds of questioning, which was led by Ed Johnson and Bruce Ringger. The questions tested the candidates' knowledge of the issues and showcased their individual positions on topics ranging from county to state issues.
All candidates agreed Missouri needs to become a business-friendly state, that additional funding for troubled schools in Missouri would not resolve the problems, and harsh regulations by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) should be resisted. Candidates also agreed Missouri's state rights are continuingly being eroded by the federal government.
All candidates stated they were pro-life and in favor of de-funding Planned Parenthood.
Bennett strongly supports agriculture and free market principles in Missouri.
Washburn stressed the need for strengthening family values and limiting product liability costs.
Fitzpatrick proposed unemployment and welfare reform and limiting the size of state government.
"This debate marked the fourth event sponsored by the Southwest Missouri Tea Party this summer," said Gwenn Ringger, the group's vice president. "The growing interest in vetting of candidates is clear evidence that Americans are once again becoming engaged in the political process."
Results of a straw poll at the end of the evening showed Fitzpatrick in first place, followed by Bennett and Washburn.