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This week, at least three prominent campaigns were in the news for all the wrong reasons in Oregon. In each case, debates have either been blown off, fought about or refused altogether. In all three cases, it was the Democrat candidate who was responsible for the breakdown.
The first campaign where this occurred is in the 4th Congressional District, where Republican Art Robinson is challenging 6 term incumbent Peter DeFazio, a Democrat. Now, this is a feud that has been simmering for a long time - most of the summer, in fact. According to Art Robinson's website:
DeFazio insists that he will not debate – he will not face his opponent man-to-man, without the protection of a moderator. He will only “forum” with sponsorship by his friends (although he likes to pretend that these forums are “debates”, even when the sponsors specifically state they are not).
This issue appears to be more a disagreement about debate format. Nonetheless, Rep. DeFazio has refused Robinson's offer to accept his debate schedule if DeFazio in turn agrees to debates in Robinson's preferred format.
The second Oregon campaign grappling with this issue is that for Attorney General. A bit of background: in April this year, then-AG John Kroger announced that he was resigning effective June 29, and Governor Kitzhaber appointed Rosenblum to serve out the remainder of Kroger's term. (Interestingly, Kroger's health problems didn't prohibit him from taking a new job as President of Reed College, paying approximately 2.5 times his salary as AG.) Rosenblum faced a Democrat challenger in the Primary, US Attorney Dwight Holton. They held public debates, and Rosenblum won the primary handily. In the meantime, after a Republican candidate failed to file by the deadline, Portland attorney James Buchal engaged in a successful write in campaign for the Republican nomination and won the right to face Rosenblum in the general election.
Now Rosenblum, who has taken almost $200,000 from the medical marijuana lobby, has made a statement that she will not be debating her main opponent in the election, and her reasoning is pretty dismissive:
Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum said through a campaign spokeswoman Monday that she will not debate her Republican opponent, Portland attorney James Buchal.
Buchal [has] been trying for months without success to get Rosenblum to respond to his demands that the two debate.
"It's important for the people to see candidates" present their divergent views, said Buchal, adding that he has several issues he would like to challenge her on. He said she has ignored two letters he has written to her asking for debates.
Cynara Lilly, a spokeswoman for Rosenblum's campaign, noted that Rosenblum participated in several debates with her Democratic primary opponent, Dwight Holton.
"She feels like she's already debate on attorney general issues in front of the public several times," said Lilly, adding that Rosenblum is busy with her new position but will do some campaign events this fall.
"She is not hiding from the public at all," Lilly said.
Sounds as if she isn't campaigning from all, from this statement. Has she concluded that she doesn't need to campaign?
But the biggest whopper has come from Secretary of State Kate Brown's (#korruptkate) reelection campaign - a screwup that, if intentional shows disdain for the voters, and if unintentional shows a massive lack of attention to detail. The latter seems plausible, given her reputation in Salem.
Originally, both Secretary Brown and her Republican opponent, Knute Buehler, were scheduled to tape a side-by-side television interview (not a formal debate, but answering similar questions from a reporter) on Thursday, September 27. After a bit of digging, it appears that there was some miscommunication between the tv station and Kate Brown's campaign. The station reports that the campaign blames them - that the wrong date was left on a voicemail and Brown's campaign thought it was going to be on October 27. In any event, when the station made contact again with Brown's campaign, and the mixup was discovered, the campaign was told that the only available time to make her appearance was on Wednesday the 26th. A call to Brown's campaign manager for comment has gone unreturned so far.
Let's follow the three possibilities here. Either Brown's campaign failed to follow up to properly schedule the appearance, or Brown and her campaign took the wrong date from the voicemail. Or, in a worst case scenario, Brown deliberately ducked the appearance. The first two scenarios signal a serious lack of attention to detail, which is disturbing given the position held. The third indicates a sense of desperation in the campaign.
In all three cases, the Democrat incumbent is displaying an apparent lack of respect to the voters by not engaging in an exchange of ideas with their opponent.