This week’s debate between six candidates for California governor was full of short and cut-off answers, given the small amounts of time for answers (60 seconds for a direct question, 30 seconds for rebuttals) and to the whole debate (only 60 minutes statewide, plus 30 minutes for Bay Area viewers).

A debate like that is sure to raise more questions than it answers. And this one did. Here are the five I had while watching.

  1. Is Gavin Newsom really that tall or are John Chiang and Antonio Villaraigosa really that short?

Newsom had a huge physical advantage on the stage—he was the tallest candidate, and he towered over those two Democrats, who stood on either side of him. John Chiang, in particular, needs a stool. He looked meek when he turned to Newsom and had to look up at him.

My dear father Jay Mathews, a longtime Washington Post education reporter, is just 5’5” tall (on his best days) and has long made the argument that politics is entirely determined by height. And the data really bears him out. Bottom line: before they meet again, Villaraigosa and Chiang need to get some really big stools.

  1. Does anyone buy Travis Allen?

No one can lie at the pace of President Trump, but Allen did his best. He told one bigoted whopper after another. He kept saying that solutions are simple – they are not in California – but that is the language of demagoguery. And he repeated totally debunked nonsense about immigration that comes right from the Trump playbook.

I worry that the candidates didn’t challenge all the lies in more detail. Yes, that would mean giving the precious little time they had for speaking. But such lies misinform the public, and the California public already believes too much stuff that isn’s true.

  1. Why does John Cox always have to yell when I can hear him already?

John, you are miked. You don’t have to scream. It doesn’t make your attempt to sound moderate while trumpeting the Trumpian nonsense of a border wall any more credible. Cox makes some smart points about the cost of living in California being driven by regulation and politics—on this subject, he was not refuted by any of the Democrats, because the criticism is spot on. But he sounds so angry and loud that that message isn’t getting through.

Also, with all the loud talking, I never could quite understand what business the Republican businessman is.

  1. Does Chuck Todd only hang out with political jerks?

The NBC moderator twice congratulated the candidates for not behaving like jerks or worse. “You guys were very well-behaved,” he said at one point.

Since Todd is based in Washington D.C. and does national politics, one has to wonder how bad it must be back in the nation’s capital or in other states. The candidates were mostly civil, though there were a couple of personal attacks.

Of course, California politics is rarely bitter on the surface. The nastiness comes out more behind closed doors. Another reason: the attention on politics is not high, and the stakes are low. Pretty much all big decisions on governance have already been baked into the state constitution, so politicians can’t do much about them.

And if you lose a race here, life is not so bad. You’re still in California.

  1. Why didn’t anyone ask the most important question about Jerry Brown?

One of the most clarifying questions for voters was not asked. That question, which should have been posed to all four Democrats on stage, is:

What, exactly, has Jerry Brown gotten wrong as governor, and what would you do differently?

For Republicans, you could reverse it, and ask what he did right.

But the question should be asked. All four Democrats were defending the status quo in California, with Villaraigosa coming the closest to independence from established dogma on pensions and education. For a decade, Brown has dominated the media and what little public conversation there is about the state.

It’s time for a post-Brown conversation, and some new thinking about the state. No one really seized the opportunity to start that conversation at this debate.