PA-11: Hollister Chides Smucker Over Debate Flap

Lloyd Smucker, Bob Hollister

It’s not the first time that Bob Hollister has seen Lloyd Smucker trying to avoid debate.

In fact, the Democratic candidate for the U.S. House has first-hand experience with the Republican incumbent in his previous role as superintendent of the Eastern Lancaster County School District.

In 2018, Smucker was slated to hold a “Democracy Day” forum with Democratic challenger Jess King at Garden Spot High School in New Holland, Pa. The forum, hosted by LNP Media Group and the Lancaster Chamber, was designed for high school students from across Lancaster County to engage with the 11th Congressional District candidates.

After a morning session where students from 26 public, private and parochial high schools gathered to develop questions, seven students were selected to pose them on stage to the candidates.

“Three days before the debate, he wasn’t coming,” remembered Hollister. “He felt the whole setup was more Democrat than Republican. It took a lot of cajoling to get him there.”

“A debate is equal opportunity for both of us to present ourselves and present our policies and positions. Why wouldn’t you want to do that, regardless of the media service?”

Hollister spoke at the Lancaster County Democrats picnic at Long’s Park in Lancaster on Saturday. His message was clear – Smucker believes he has supporters, not constituents.

“That’s the big message,” he said. “He only addresses his supporters and not his constituents. When was the last time he was even seen meeting with anyone in the city. He ignores the city completely. The LNP case is a perfect example of how Mr. Smucker only wants to talk to his friends and his people. He doesn’t concern himself with all the members of the district. His job is to care about everyone”

“His electronic town halls … I think they’re scripted,” Hollister said. “I know people who have gotten those calls and they don’t get to ask their question. It’s disingenuous. It’s only right that people get to hear where you stand on things, right or wrong.”

“Lancaster County folks like to meet in person.”

The Democratic challenger did indicate that Smucker has reached out to WHTM-TV 27 in Harrisburg – outside the 11th district but within the Lancaster-Harrisburg-York market – about holding a debate. “It looks like there is going to be a debate, but is he doing anything with WGAL?”

Last week, Smucker turned down an invitation from the Lancaster Chamber and the York County Economic Alliance for debates on October 6 and 13. The reason he gave LNP | Lancaster Online’s executive editor Tom Murse – wanting to work with a news organization “with broader reach and less bias.”

Jenna Geesey, campaign manager for Smucker, said that “a televised debate has been scheduled with ABC 27 (WHTM)” in Harrisburg, due in part to the Nexstar station’s “experience in hosting debates on federal issues and has a larger audience reach than LNP.”

5 Responses

  1. Get a Nation or even International News Agency to attend and let them see how it goes.
    Maybe Smucker is just a paid figure for a network of “good ol’ boys”(& gals) that just all decide in what they want, and do so with their money.

  2. Hollister is spot on. GOP incumbents in PA do everything possible to avoid debates. When they do engage the public it’s always very scripted with supporters asking the questions. The GOP is afraid of Democracy.

  3. It’s disgusting to free elections to duck debates and ignore media outlets because they are not in your hip pocket. Preaching to the converted does no good. Debating in all kinds of environments shows that u are not fearful of having your opinions challenged. Smucker avoiding a forum cosponsored by the local chamber of commerce that would have seven high school students pose questions is beyond pathetic. Just think. A member of US Congress fears the intense political questions posed by Biff Baxter “Ace Reporter” of Podunk High School Weekly at a gathering of high school students. Intellectual emptiness at its finest. Again, totally pathetic!

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