Coming into the debate, 3rd term Congressman Jerry McNerney faced pressure to prove that he could connect with voters in the Central Valley.
The 9th District once included much more of the Bay Area. Now, thanks to redistricting, it mostly covers the Central Valley, forcing McNerney to move from Pleasanton to Stockton.
That's why Republican challenger and political newcomer Ricky Gill took every opportunity to paint McNerney as out of touch with his constituents.
"I understand my opponent lives in Pleasanton which is not in this district but family farming is a big issue for us here in San Joaquin County and it's very important that we have a member of Congress who puts our biggest economy first."
Gill is from Lodi and throughout the debate, the 25-year-old law school graduate emphasized his roots.
Almost every question he received he responded with an attack on his opponent.
McNerney for the most part didn't attack back.
He emphasized his record in Congress, pointing to legislation he wrote to combat the foreclosure crisis and his work bringing a veterans hospital to the district.
But when it came to the issue of building a peripheral canal to pump water from the Delta to southern California, McNerney went on the attack.
"We're doing everything we possibly can to prevent this from happening, my opponent on the other hand talks a good talk, but he takes tens of thousands of dollars from members of the Westlands water board who are hell bent on putting in a peripheral canal."
The two candidates have swamped local airwaves and mailboxes with negative ads.
Keith Smith a political science professor at University of the Pacific, says he was disappointed that the candidates brought that kind of campaign on stage.
"I think if anything what's surprising is just the pervasive negative tone in the terms of the debate and the incessant need to constantly hammer the opponent rather than actually respond to the question or speak to the issues."
Smith says both candidates lost a chance to take their gloves off.
They also passed on chances to discuss the Affordable Care Act, Medicare or Social Security.
The overriding issue this election season - job creation, was barely mentioned by either candidate in their closing statements. First, Ricky Gill.
"I want to stand up for private sector job growth under my opponent's watch unemployment here has doubled, our water is about to be sent to LA, our farmers and our small businesses are hurting"
"I've been able to bring 250 jobs for public transportation I brought a significant amount of money to the port of Stockton for infrastructure development because the Port of Stockton is the greatest job creator in our region."