Roanoke Democrats gather to watch debates and share who their front-runners are

20 Democratic candidates split the debate over two nights

By Shayne Dwyer - Reporter

ROANOKE, Va. - Thursday night was round two for Democratic presidential hopefuls, as the second half of the candidates battled it out on stage. 

The Roanoke City Democratic Committee hosted a watch party at Food Fanatics Kitchen. The restaurant is on the smaller side, but pretty much every seat was filled and then some. The crowd definitely had a few favorite candidates going into it, but they were excited to watch it play out.

There were 10 candidates on the stage Thursday night and they each put the hard sell on what makes them the best choice. Direct from Miami right to Roanoke, Democratic voters like Lauren Peterson were paying close attention.

"There's a lot of tensions politically, and like geopolitically, and I just know that like especially with the climate I'm very worried about our future," Peterson said.

There was no hiding Peterson's choice, her shirt said it all. She supports Sen. Bernie Sanders. Sanders and former Vice-President Joe Biden were placed center stage with the eight other candidates flanking either side of them.

Mark Lazar is with the committee and organized the watch party. They gathered for both nights of debate to watch all 20 candidates get a chance on stage.

"The camera doesn't lie, if you're not genuine it picks it up," Lazar said. "A lot of people don't know who a lot of the candidates are and this is their opportunity to start to get familiar with them."

There's room to be a little less serious too, bingo boards stuffed with catchphrases candidates have become popular online were a must-have.

"What we got out of being together is a sense of community, and a feeling for how each other are thinking," Lazar said.

And for some it's still too early to know exactly what they're thinking. But others like Peterson said sign on the dotted line, it's already decided.

"I have a feeling it's going to come down to Warren and Bernie, I think those are the two strongest candidates in the field right now," Peterson said.

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