There will be one less debate than previously expected between Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Bucks) and Democratic challenger Christina Finello, an Ivyland Borough Councilwoman, for the 1st Congressional District.
According to local talk radio station WBCB, Finello cited scheduling issues in withdrawing from a WBCB 1490 debate with Fitzpatrick, although the specific date was agreed upon by the local radio station and the Fitzpatrick campaign from a date that the Finello campaign previously offered.
WBCB reports that both campaigns began coordinating with the staff in the second week of July to have an in-person debate at the local station’s studio. Finello’s campaign pushed for a debate in the last two weeks of October, while Fitzpatrick’s campaign wanted the debate to be held before Labor Day. Finello’s campaign balked at the Fitzpatrick proposal of having the debate in early September, arguing that voters would not be engaged Labor Day weekend. The Fitzpatrick campaign ultimately agreed upon September 21, which it and the station said was included on a list of dates proposed by the Finello campaign.
However, WBCB reports that by the time Fitzpatrick’s campaign agreed upon this compromise date, Finello’s campaign had already scheduled other events, resulting in the withdrawal.
Fitzpatrick pounced on the news by shooting out a tweet criticizing Finello’s decision to withdrawal from this specific debate and also sending out a fundraising email claiming that Finello was “afraid to debate,” and “afraid to explain her extremist policies.”
“Well, this says it all,” a release from the Fitzpatrick campaign reads. “Christina Finello now claims that she does not have a single hour free anytime in the next two months to discuss the issues in front of the voters before they begin mail-in voting. Even on the dates that she told us that she was available, they’ve magically disappeared. We will let the voters decide on whether they think she’s telling the truth.”
Finello’s campaign fired back in a statement pinning the blame on Fitzpatrick for scheduling conflicts.
“We had just begun discussing scheduling for the WBCB debate and had not confirmed our participation,” said Ali Anderson, Finello campaign spokesperson. “We offered over 20 dates when Congress was not in session for this debate, including weekends. Unfortunately, the Fitzpatrick campaign indicated scheduling conflicts for all of those dates and showed no interest in finding a compromise.”
Finello’s campaign also decided to take a shot at Fitzpatrick by saying they are still looking forward to the two other debates the campaign has confirmed and the chance to hold the incumbent Republican “accountable for voting to give tax breaks to the rich and siding with Donald Trump.”
Two other debates, one at Lower Bucks County Community College, and the other sponsored by the League of Women Voters hosted by the Bucks County Chamber of Commerce, are slated to take place in October.
Several ratings outlets currently have the race as Leans Republican.