LIVE FROM DETROIT! Insider NJ Coverage of the 2020 Democratic Debate

Insider NJ's Jay Lassiter covers the Democratic presidential debate live from Detroit.

InsiderNJ is in Detroit for ROUND 2 of the Democratic Presidential debates on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Tonight’s event headlined by Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Pete Buttigieg. And then Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, and Cory Booker top the bill for Wednesday’s finale.

Here’s what I’ll have my eye on in the Motor City:

Kamala Harris v Joe Biden 2.0. Will sparks fly again? Former VP Joe Biden seemed unprepared for Senator Harris’ line of inquiry in ROUND 1. Will he be ready this time?

Mayor Pete. Can South Bend, Indiana’s Pete Buttigieg keep his momentum going? He backed up his huge, splashy, high-profile spring with massive fundraising numbers all summer.

Marijuana. Candidates are finally eager to brandish their plan to reform our nation’s drug laws. For example Senator Harris, a former prosecutor, wants to decriminalize- and remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act, allowing states to set their own guidelines.

Cory. If cannabis becomes a hot debate topic, that helps NJ’s Senator Cory Booker, whose long drug reform track record is virtually peerless. Booker’s been struggling to break into the top tier and this may be his last chance.

Exploring NJ connections. Union County’s Analilia Mejia is Bernie’s National Political Advisor. Bergen County’s Jennifer Holdsworth advises Mayor Pete’s impressive braintrust. Liza Acevedo is Julian Castro’s Deputy Press Secretary. Then, of course, there’s our own Cory Booker whose campaign is filled with names familiar to InsiderNJ readers.

Swing State. Donald Trump’s margin of victory in 2016 boiled down to Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan where he defied expectations to sweep all three states. Trump read the mood while democrats slept. It’s no coincidence that these debates are in Detroit and that next year’s Democratic National Convention is in Milwaukee. That indicates an alertness to past mistakes. Michigan voters flipped a couple House seats and democrats took over the governorship in 2018. Clearly no one’s taking Michigan’s 16 electoral votes for granted this time around.

Medical Marijuana. Michigan takes out-of-state medical cannabis IDs. We’ll take a trip to a dispensary to highlight how it’s done infinitely better outside of New Jersey, home to America’s costliest medical marijuana.

Cadillac Westin. Detroit’s venerable Cadillac Westin Hotel will host many of the candidates who are onstage tonight and tomorrow. It’s just a few blocks  from the Fox Theater, site of the debate. When The Cadillac Hotel opened in 1924, it was the tallest building in Detroit and the tallest hotel in the world. A lot of history has happened here. According to Wikipedia, “on May 2, 1939, New York Yankee first baseman Lou Gehrig collapsed on the hotel’s grand staircase. Gehrig, who would later be diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, decided to sit-out that afternoon’s game against the Detroit Tigers, ending his consecutive games played streak.” And for a building that’s seen its share of ups and downs, the Cadillac Hotel will be humming with activity all week long. I’m slumming it at the Holiday Inn Express across the street, close enough to feel like the political groupie that I am.

Oh Canada. The United States shares a 5,525 mile border with Canada, a nation where adult recreational use of cannabis is now legal. Winsor, Ontario is a short drive from downtown Detroit. Let’s see if there’s time for a quick trip across the border.

Jay Lassiter is an award-winning writer and podcaster who’s working tirelessly to get the government out of your bong. He’s on Twitter @Jay_Lass.


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