Plans in doubt for TV debate involving main U.S. House contenders
Posted: 10/03/2012 at 1:15 am
By: Tim Vandenack
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Jackie Walorski running for congress for the Indiana second district seat. (Photo Supplied)
Brendan Mullen Candidate for Congress 1/28/2012 (Photo Supplied)
Joe Ruiz 9/15/2012 (Photo Supplied)
Democrat Brendan Mullen and Republican Jackie Walorski may still show up for a proposed debate in Wabash at the southern end of the 2nd District, along with Libertarian Joe Ruiz. But if it pans out, it won’t be televised.
Prospects for a proposed debate between Mullen and Walorski sponsored by WSBT Radio in South Bend, meanwhile, remain uncertain. The WSBT plans, said news director Bob Montgomery, are in “a holding pattern.”
The Walorski campaign says they’ll take part in a WSBT debate, which would be televised by SBT2, but the Mullen camp objects to the exclusion of Ruiz and hasn’t made a firm decision.
The absence of Ruiz, said Mullen campaign manager Andy Reynolds, is “a big concern.”
Ruiz wasn’t included because of the apparent low profile of his campaign, according to Montgomery. He noted online Federal Election Commission reports that indicate Ruiz has neither received donations nor spent any funds in the race and the lack of press releases from Ruiz to the WSBT news-gathering team.
“We have no evidence he’s actually actively campaigning for the seat,” Montgomery said.
Reynolds said Ruiz should be allowed to participate because he’ll be on the Nov. 6 ballot.
OTHER DEBATE PLANS
The most solid prospect for a meeting of the three 2nd District candidates seems to be at a proposed debate sponsored by the Wabash Chamber of Commerce, tentatively set for Oct. 25. Pat Lynn, chair of the chamber’s government affairs committee, said Tuesday that debate terms were to be sent to the three candidates for their final approval.
If it occurs, though, the chamber doesn’t have the capability to televise the event, Lynn said.
Indiana University South Bend’s American Democracy Project plans to go ahead with a debate set for Oct. 28 that will be televised by WNIT, the public television station. The contenders in 2008 and 2010, including Walorski, participated in the IUSB-WNIT encounter.
This go-round, though, Walorski bowed out, and organizers will go ahead with just Mullen and Ruiz. Walorski won’t be forgotten — Elizabeth Bennion, the IUSB political science professor helping organize the debate, said the Republican’s public comments and views would likely be fodder for some questions.
The Rochester Sentinel in Rochester, likewise, plans to go ahead with a debate including just Ruiz and Mullen on Oct. 29. Walorski declined an invite.
The newspaper has sponsored 2nd District U.S. House debates for more than a decade, according to Sentinel editor W.S. Wilson, and this is the first time he can recall a major party hopeful opting out. “It kind of took us by surprise. We didn’t expect this,” he said.
Ruiz suspects enough people label Walorski the frontrunner in the race that she “feels she has nothing to gain from the debate,” he said. Walorski, he added, “doesn’t understand debates are not for the candidates. Debates are for the voters.”
Walorski campaign manager Brendon DelToro alluded back to Walorski’s original statement last month accepting debate invites from the Wabash chamber and WSBT. In the statement, she said the two proposals offered the opportunity for the “greatest number of voters” throughout the district to hear from the candidates.