Congressional candidates in Virginia's closely contested 11th District are familiar with one another, they faced off for the same seat just two years ago.
But that doesn't mean debates are any less heated this time around.
Minutes into the debate, Keith Fimian, the Republican challenger, accused incumbent Gerry Connolly, of what he called subterfuge and outright lies, using a metaphor that widened the eyes of more than a few watching the exchange.
"What he wants you to avoid, folks, is over here," says Fimian told the audience, while gesturing abstractly to his left. "What's over here is a big black curtain with a terrible, terrible thing behind it that will devour your children."
Fimian didn't clarify exactly what he meant. Connolly poked fun at Fimian's rhetoric, but also tried to claim the moral high ground.
"That's an ad hominem attack, characterizing someone else's character, and I would urge you to refrain from that," says Connolly.
After that exchange, Fimian tried to argue his opponent supports anti-business policies, though Connolly disagreed.
"He voted for the stimulus bill, he voted for cap and trade;these things are disasters, each one worse than the one before it for American business," retorts Fimian.
"Four Fortune 500 companies have come to Fairfax in the last four years," says Connolly. "No other region in the country can boast of that."
Voters will have more chances to see the candidates square off again. More than a dozen additional debates between Fimian and Connolly are scheduled before Election Day.