Coaches say Penny was best debater

Andrew Pritchard

Independence Party candidate Tim Penny was the best debater in Monday’s televised gubernatorial debate, according to a panel of debate coaches assembled by the Minnesota Debate Teachers Association.

Coaches Mike Vergin of Mounds Park Academy and Cort Sylvester of Rosemount High School gave Penny the highest rating on a 100-point scale, assessing candidates’ delivery, organization, knowledge of issues, logic and use of evidence.

Coach Gail Sarff of Wayzata High School gave Democratic candidate Roger Moe the win.

All three coaches criticized the debate’s format for allowing no opportunity for candidates to directly respond to opponents or cross-examine them, and they questioned its usefulness for undecided voters.

The coaches’ full comments are available on the association’s Web site,