Campfield and comedian face-off in a debate

Campfield and comedian face-off in a debate

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By MIKE KRAFCIK
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE)-- State Sen. Stacey Campfield and comedian J. LaLonde, a former Knoxville DJ faced-off in a long-anticipated debate on Saturday.

Campfield previously sparred with LaLonde on his radio show, and after hearing about the senator's headline-making bills and commentary, the comedian wanted to return to East Tennessee for another showdown.

The LaLonde vs Campfield "Don't say "Debate" Debate" took place at the Square Room in downtown Knoxville Saturday afternoon.

"I get people to challenge me to debate all the time, very few of them are credible, most of them I'll blow off," Campfield said. 

LaLonde set up the debate, which campfield agreed to participate.

"As a standup comedian who tours in East Tennessee quite often, I said hey let's do this in a theater, let's raise money for charity, and really talk about interesting things, and be funny, we'll learn something, and we'll accomplish something," said LaLonde. 

Campfield said the debate gave him a chance to have a serious discussion about some of the senator's legislation, which has been often criticized.

"It just gave me an opportunity to say what my bills do and what they don't, which a lot of times have misreported," Campfield said. 

Campfield and LaLonde debated the merits of some of Campfield's most controversial legislation, including his various bills dealing with welfare recipients and the "Don't Say Gay Bill."

The two took playful shots at each other, and despite their differences, both used this forum as a way to increase the level of the public discourse.

"We don't agree on too much, but we always kept it above the belt, and we've always kept it cordial  with each other. We're two guys up on stage, trying to figure things out and where he's coming from with his legislation," said LaLonde. 

Those in the crowd seemed pleased by the result of the debate; many called it smart and informative.

"It was a very entertaining, but a lot of issues were discussed, I think the surprising thing will be that people came away little bit away from both camps, and found middle ground, it was great," said Michael Samstag.

Even Campfield seemed to win over a few fans in attendance.

"I thought he did a very good job, even from someone who's not one of his big supporters," said Rebecca Swain.

The two agreed to the debate only after donating proceeds to a charitable cause which Campfield chose. 

Campfield asked that money be raised for the victims of the Boston Marathon through the American Red Cross.

LaLonde raised more than $1,000 for the pro-life Choice Resource Center in Oak Ridge, which offers counseling to men and women who find themselves facing unplanned pregnancies, as well as parenting classes, pregnancy tests, and STD testing.

The event was moderated by Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett. 

Campfield said Burchett was neutral and not biased in the questions he presented.

The debaters were asked questions, some of which they submitted, some the mayor came up with on his own.

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