What’s the key issue in the U.S. House races in Pennsylvania this election? Where to debate.
It’s a tale as old as time: challenger wants 100 debates, the incumbent agrees to one 30-minute forum at 7 a.m. the Monday before the election.
We have seen throughout the state races in which incumbent Congressmen getting challenged to a debate by their opponents, and being slow to jump on board, causing an outcry from their challengers.
Here’s the latest from 5 Pa. congressional races.
Democratic hopeful Larry Maggi is the latest hopeful to complain about his opponent for lack of debate. Maggi knocked Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Allegheny) for dodging debates, just a week after Maggi requested a debate between him and Murphy in PA-18.
However, Murphy’s dodging may be a result of a lack of communication between the two campaigns.
In a press release, the Maggi campaign criticized Murphy for ducking PCNC’s “Get To The Point.” Maggi and Murphy were asked to sit on a panel moderated by former Congresswoman Melissa Hart. Maggi’s campaign said that Murphy was unable to attend the panel.
However, according to spokesperson Tyler Foote, the Murphy campaign says it is in the process of rescheduling because Congress will be in session. Foote also went on to confirm that both Maggi and Murphy are scheduled for the Westmoreland County Chambers of Commerce Candidates Forum on Thursday Sept 27.
“Not surprising Larry has the facts wrong again, said Foote. “We are booked for a candidates forum next Thursday.”
Despite the letter penned to Murphy being a week old and the scheduled candidates forum, it seems the Maggi campaign has grown weary of the Congressman’s lack of interest in a one-on-one debate.
“Southwest Pennsylvania deserves to hear Congressman Tim Murphy explain why he voted to force seniors to pay $6,400 per year for Medicare whiling giving millionaires even more tax cuts. Voters want to look both candidates in the eye and hear exactly what each candidate will do to earn their vote. It is our duty to give the voters this opportunity,” said Maggi.
The problem is that Murphy’s campaign said it has yet to receive the letter from Maggi, thus the lack of response to Maggi’s request.
Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Lehigh) declined a debate against Democratic challenger Rick Daugherty. The debate was to be sponsored by Easton Express-Times, however, citing an editorial from the newspaper calling for Dent’s removal from office, Dent decided to pull out of that debate. He’s agreed thus far to participate in two between him and Daugherty.
An editorial in The Times Leader Sunday called upon Rep. Lou Barletta (R-Luzerne) to reply to challenger Gene Stilp’s request for nine debates across PA-11. Stilp requested these debates 43 days in advance, and has still yet to hear from Barletta on when and where they will debate. As a challenger to former Rep. Paul Kanjorski, Barletta himself challenged Kanjorski to a series of debates.
Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick (R-Bucks) and Democrat Kathy Boockvar have had difficulty deciding on where and when to debate. Boockvar fielded questions at a Social Security and Medicare Candidate Forum at the United Church of Christ in Levittown. Fitzpatrick was absent for the forum.
Another holdup is that Fitzpatrick and Boockvar have two different schedules for debates lined up, and cannot agree to when and where they will spar on the issues. They have three scheduled so far, but are packed in the middle of the day, making it difficult for constituents to attend or participate.
Rep. Mike Kelly (R-Butler) has declined one debate between him and Democratic hopeful Missa Eaton. It was to be sponsored by The Meadville Tribune and Allegheny College’s Center for Political Participation between Missa Eaton and Independent Candidate Steven Porter. He’s agreed to a televised debate on WQLN.