Tuesday's 12th District congressional forum was already about an hour old when two candidates started with the metaphors.
"We're not giving out a lifetime achievement award," George Battle III told the audience at the Tuesday Morning Forum.
Battle, a first-time candidate, was talking about state Sen. Malcolm Graham, who had touted his experience in the legislature, the community and on Charlotte City Council.
"I don't want a lifetime achievement award," Graham shot back. "If we want to send experience (to Washington) now is not the time to send the junior varsity." After all, he said, experience counts.
Then it was Battle's turn.
"Sen. Graham has talked about experience," he said. "He's right. I don't have any experience compiling one of the Senate's worst attendance records over the last 10 years (and) one of the worst effectiveness rankings.
"It's always been my philosophy that I'd rather be a starter on the junior varsity than on the bench on the varsity."
New rankings by the N.C. Center for Public Policy Research show Graham ranked 42nd of 50 senators in attendance last session, missing 10 of the 106 legislative days. The same survey ranked him 44th in effectiveness.
(Graham pointed to an NAACP scorecard, which gave him a grade of 96 for the last session.)
Graham and Battle were the only ones of seven Democratic candidates to show up at the forum. Among the missing" James "Smuggie" Mitchell. The forum came a day after he lost a bid to be appointed mayor, a job that went instead to Sen. Dan Clodfelter.