Mike Ross Reflects on the First Debate

Thank You North Carolina

My debate against Shannon went great. We proved that we can civilly disagree about things and acknowledge where we align, and we don’t have to kill each other. I give the people of North Carolina credit for still believing in that possibility.

On July 6, Shannon Bray, who is currently the only other registered Libertarian, and I met at the Faith, Hope and Love Ministry in Gastonia, a place near and dear to me, for the first of what I expect to be several debates leading up to the governor election in 2024. The experience was novel and refreshing, and I want to tell you all about it and acknowledge some people who helped put it together.

Before I get into any of it, I have to thank Shannon. You conducted yourself in a manner that makes me proud to be Libertarian and proud to share the space with you, and debated in a way that should make all Libertarians proud. You were civil, respectful, and sincere, but you didn’t abandon your principles or shy away from difficult issues.

I also have to thank Steven DiFiore. I was happy to hear that Steven would be the moderator. I find you to be an honest and committed Libertarian, and I expected that you would maintain a fair debate, insightful but cordial. You did not disappoint. If we want to show the country that you can run aggressively, on principle, while still remaining connected as humans, steady leadership like yours will be necessary, especially as the party grows and things are more prone to conflict.

The debate itself was nearly flawless. We started a little late, for those paying attention. Quick inside perspective, we had everything else lined up, tested, and working perfectly, and the laptop got ornery at the last minute, and tried to not sign into both YouTube and the recording program at the same time. Our team quickly fixed that, and we were off.

Having a livestreamed debate opens the discussion up to people across the state, Libertarian and other, with easy access and the ability to watch later, when convenient. And the live chat with audience questions got everyone involved, no matter where they were watching. To keep people coming back, we have to execute on things like that, and our team really came through. For that, I want to thank Courtney Conover and my campaign manager, Rob, Nate Seedorf, and everyone else who contributed to bringing equipment, setting up, testing, and keeping the debate running smoothly for everyone joining virtually.

Actually debating in-person, though, creates an environment that is simply impossible to duplicate when we are speaking virtually. I have to thank Brad Hessel for getting Shannon to the debate, and I want to thank all the people in the *studio* audience for coming out to watch and giving the debate an unbelievable vibe.

I am also happy with my performance in the debate. I am not claiming to be the “winner;” I think the people of North Carolina are the only ones who should ever “win” when politicians debate (#FiretheUniparty). Rather, I felt very comfortable in the discussion and I think my responses are reliable reflections of how I would handle being your governor. I hope that I piqued your interest enough to want to learn more. Check out my website, or feel free to reach out directly. I love meeting other Libertarians. For any success I might have had, though, I have to thank my incredible campaign team for the extensive preparation you put into this.

Finally, and I saved the most important one for last, I want to thank Pastor Moses Colbert, Pastor Monica [last name], and everyone at the Faith, Hope, and Love ministry for hosting us so graciously in your building. Pastor Moses, you have been an inspiration to me, more than you know, for the last few years, and it has been an honor and a privilege to serve by your side. Despite the pressure you were under with the City’s draconian and vengeful fines, and the pressure you are always under feeding hungry people and spreading your ministry to those most in need, you found the time and space to let us hold this debate in a truly perfect setting. You have a beautiful family at your church, and I promise, I will never stop fighting to defend it.

I have written previously about events around the state, and all the great people I’ve met and things I’ve seen. This time, staying close to home, with a little help from a lot of great people, proved an excellent reminder to keep my eyes open for greatness everywhere, and always remember who I fight for.

Mike’s website can be found here, volunteers can register here, and donations can be made here. Finally, check out his Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

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