"I'm 6'5" and weigh 225 pounds," KPHO-TV (Channel 5) news anchor Jon Du Pre cautioned the audience gathered at the Ritz-Carlton Phoenix for the final gubernatorial candidate forum Wednesday, "but my crew director is in even better shape, and we'll evict any hecklers."
Had liquor been served, the swanky hotel could have been the scene of a riot, as loyalties and passions ran high.
Darcy Olsen, executive director of the Goldwater Institute, tossed out the first series of questions, followed by those chosen from e-mailers and attendees.
Without a doubt, Libertarian Barry Hess was the darling of the crowd. Blessed with a good vocabulary and a playful sense of humor, he sometimes had onlookers laughing even before he answered.
"Who asked that question?" he demanded at one point. "Stand up and identify yourself so I can excoriate you," Hess kidded, since anyone familiar with his unwavering Libertarian philosophy could have predicted his response.
"Go, Janet, go," Hess chanted into his microphone when technicians conducted a sound check.
Indeed, Janet Napolitano looked great in a bright red suit and matching blouse a la Gov. Jane Hull's silver and bronze tone-on-tone ensembles.
Later, when candidates were allowed to quiz each other, Hess asked independent Dick Mahoney: "Is there any reason that we should have faith that Janet's plan will hold up under scrutiny?" Pleased, Dick shook Barry's hand, while Matt Salmon enjoyed the freebie.
During closing statements, Hess said he could summarize everything that had been said at the podiums all evening: "Pick me! Pick me!"
If you want to see the action for yourselves, Channel 5 is airing the taped debate at 4 p.m. today.