Does any candidate, Republican or Democrat, really think they have their 2018 election or re-election so in the bag that they don’t need to show up for a scheduled public debate?
Well, that’s just what happened in Minnesota on Sunday.
The Minneapolis-St. Paul news station KSTP announced on its website that it would host “a three-hour long, commercial free debate Sunday” to give “candidates in the gubernatorial, attorney general and United States Senate races the chance to talk about campaign issues that will impact Minnesotans.”
Free air time to speak directly to your audience. What a boon for anyone running for office.
At least you would think so, but the Democratic candidate and incumbent Sen. Tina Smith declined. And Republican candidate Karin Housley had the stage to herself.
The Daily Caller reported: “Later, the Eyewitness 5 website announced that Senator Tina Smith, who was appointed to fill the seat vacated by former Senator Al Franken, had ‘declined’ the news channel’s invitation to debate. Instead, Smith’s GOP opponent Karin Housley participated in a live interview on the stage where she was supposed to have debated her Democratic opponent.”
And so Housley took full advantage of the opportunity to show voters which candidate cared about them.
This is what it looks like when only one candidate shows up to a debate. Karin Housley vs non-Tina Smith pic.twitter.com/nzQ6sevj46
— Peter Callaghan (@CallaghanPeter) October 22, 2018
With the outcome of this year’s midterms being so crucial, it’s surprising any candidate would have anything better to do than to speak to the voting public so close to Election Day.
Jake Schneider, Housley’s communications director, took the opportunity to blast out some hard truths on social media.
.@NRO: “A new poll does have Housley within 6 points. I mean, it’s not like an unelected senator is going to just skip out on debates . . .Wait, Senator Tina Smith really did skip out on the debate. That’s not ‘Minnesota nice'”! https://t.co/B6A7gasGxf
— Jake Schneider (@jacobkschneider) October 22, 2018
Smith might be so cocky because, according to Real Clear Politics, she had a polling lead average of 9.5 percent prior to not showing up for the debate.
As we all have learned from the 2016 election cycle, polling can be very deceiving. And there’s a new attitude among voters. They seem to expect more from their representatives regardless of party.
A public snub, like not showing up for a debate, might just be enough to tip that Senate race.
Democrats across the country evidently think they’re going to ride a “Blue Wave” to election victory on Nov. 6 — and the danger of that is very real if conservatives and Republicans decide to sit out the election.
But it’s exactly arrogance like this that should fuel Republican voters to get out to the polls and vote like their country depends on it.
Because it does.
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