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Minnesota lawmaker yanks mic away from challenger during debate

Posted: 10:18 AM, Oct 10, 2018
Updated: 2018-10-10 11:29:39-04

Many pundits are predicting the 2018 elections “the year of the woman.”

The trend was encapsulated during a debate for a Minnesota house race on Monday. Republican lawmaker Duane Quam grabbing the mic from Jamie Mahlberg, his Democratic opponent for District 25A.

The stunning moment occurred about 39 minutes into a 50-minute debate. After  Mahlberg gave his statement about education funding , Quam reached over and grabbed the microphone from her hand. She seemed to respond with shock, going, “Oh!”

A few minutes later, when she declined to take the mic back from him, he tossed it in front of her.

Quam, 58, an engineer, has served in the Minnesota legislature since 2010. He graduated from the University of Texas at Dallas.

Mahlberg, a Rochester Community and Technical College faculty member, is making her first run for public office.

Later, Mahlberg told the political website Splinter she felt disrespected by Quam’s actions during the debate.

“It was disappointing to be on the receiving end of such disrespectful behavior from my current representative,”  Mahlberg said.   “But ultimately I’m focused on my campaign and the hard work I will continue to do to earn the support of the voters of the district.”

Quam explained his actions as a case of nerves, but was widely pilloried on social media after his action.

“I respect Jamie and my actions at last night’s forum did not reflect that,” Quam told the Rochester Post-Bulletin in a Facebook post . “Unfortunately, my nerves got the best of me with our timed responses and I was not as graceful as I should have been while we shared the microphone. My sincere apologies to Jamie and I look forward to continuing a positive campaign.”

The actions in the Minnesota elections should make Texas voters grateful for decorum of their candidates.

At least Beto O’Rourke and Ted Cruz haven’t thrown down at their debates — yet.