EYEWITNESS NEWS (WBRE/WYOU) — The race for the seat in the 8th Congressional District is seen as a must-win by both the Republican and Democratic parties.

The midterm election is coming soon. Five-term incumbent Democrat Matt Cartwright debated his Republican challenger Jim Bognet.

Applause rang out from a live audience inside WVIA Studios near Pittston Thursday night.

It’s the first of a series of two debates among the candidates for seats in the U.S. Congress, Democrat Matt Cartwright and Republican Jim Bognet.

Congressman Matt Cartwright from Moosic is seeking his sixth term in the House of Representatives.

“Right now we’re in the middle of a post-pandemic inflation and it’s painful, and it hurts, and people are hurting from it,” Cartwright said.

Jim Bognet from Hazle Township is looking to turn the seat red.

“Ladies and gentlemen, America is off-track. We’ve gone into a ditch. We need change and we need it now,” Bognet said.

Many hot-button topics like inflation, abortion, and gun control were discussed during the fiery hour-long debate.

“You saw a clear contrast. You saw a contrast between a career politician like Matt Cartwright who spend 10 years in Washington getting nothing done someone who votes 100% of the time with Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi,” Bognet said.

“Above all what this debate proved tonight was that there are people who are willing to lie to gain public office and other things so you have to take everything with a grain of salt and you have to do your own research,” Cartwright said.

Friday at 7 p.m. WVIA will host a debate between the candidates in District 9: Congressman Dan Meuser and his challenger Amanda Waldman.

Eyewitness News has the full debate available to watch below.