Here’s something I’ve been wondering about the 2010 statewide races here in Wisconsin:
Why is it that with the exception of the Republican gubernatorial race, in which Scott Walker and Mark Neumann have actually gotten together to debate the issues, none of the other major contested races (Democratic gubernatorial primary, Republican U.S. Senate primary) have seen a debate between the various candidates?
In the Democratic gubernatorial race, businessman Tim John has issued numerous debate challenges to Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, with those challenges presumably falling on deaf ears, while in the Republican U.S. Senate race, Ron “Sunspots” Johnson has turned down, cancelled, or not responded to at least nine invitations to debate his opponent, Watertown small businessman Dave Westlake.
While I understand that Tim John and Dave Westlake aren’t viewed as “top tier” candidates – and thus aren’t taken as seriously as Tom Barrett and Ron Johnson – Wisconsin’s voters should still have the opportunity to compare and contrast what all the candidates in a given race have to say about the issues voters are most concerned about this year. It’s a shame these candidates are instead ignoring their opponents and denying Wisconsin’s voters a chance to see the candidates engage in precisely the kind of political debate that is the very backbone of our democracy.
Westlake’s campaign has also issued a press release about this, calling Johnson’s refusal to debate or to attend vetting sessions as “demonstrating a regrettable willingness to shortchange voters—and that’s just plain dangerous for Wisconsin.”