On Friday, September 7, 2018, the Clean Elections Commission sponsored a debate between the Republican and Democratic nominees for State House and State Senate in LD 18. The appropriately named Republican Nominee Frank Schmuck chose not to debate his Democratic opponent, incumbent State Senator Sean Bowie.
Unfortunately, this situation is not unique. In LD 23, State House Eric Kurland generally attends candidate forums and debates with his other Democrats but Republican candidates like John Kavanaugh and Jay Lawrence generally avoid attending these events. A Kurland supporter, former Senate Candidate Deedra Hill Abboud, shared a Facebook Post where Mr. Lawrence relayed he did not want to attend debates because “the room is filled with Democrat friends of the other side. They boo and hiss every word I say, cheer and clap for their hero. I will never subject myself to that behavior ever again.” What a profile in courage from Mr. Lawrence and the other Republicans that share these sentiments for not attending debate forums.
In addition to the above two examples of Republican “bravery”, other examples of Republican hesitancy include conservative candidates in legislative districts like 17 and 15 not yet committing (as of September 15, 2018) to engage in debates with their Democratic opponents. Furthermore, while interviewing Democratic Congressional Five Candidate Joan Greene for an upcoming piece, she indicated that Republican incumbent Andy Biggs might not participate in any debates with her. Republican Senate Candidate Martha McSally apparently thinks it is safer to fly combat missions than to debate Kyrsten Sinema because she has not yet responded to invitations to meet the Democratic nominee. Finally, Governor Doug Ducey has agreed to debate Democratic Gubernatorial Nominee David Garcia twice but Garcia wanted three forums to discuss the issues with his opponent.
Why are some Republicans afraid to debate their Democratic Opponents in front of their constituents? There can be several reasons. These include:
- They do not think they have to because they feel they are in a safe seat so why “rock the boat” and debate the opposing candidate.
- They are afraid to discuss the issues because they are on the wrong side of virtually all of them ranging from fully funding public education to the fight against Dark Money to expanding health care to our most vulnerable to protecting the rights of women and minorities.
- They are arrogant and think it is beneath them to face the people they have sworn to serve.
Whatever the reason, it is important that the people get to hear the candidates of both major political parties express their views and differences on the issues of the day. This helps the people make the best-informed decisions when it is time to vote. To have one candidate not show up is a disservice to the democratic process and the people should show their contempt for such an attitude by not voting for that person.