While Republicans slug it out in advance of next month’s 2nd Congressional District runoff, one Democratic contender continues to try to get his opponent to debate the issues.
Voters had a number of opportunities to see the six Republicans debate before the primary election. They got a chance to see the two Republicans who got the most votes face off again last week during a televised debate that has been posted online.
Registered Democrats have had several opportunities to see the prospective nominees, but they have been denied the same opportunity to hear their candidates debate. Rob Wallace, a former state and federal prosecutor from Fort Gibson, said he would like to turn that around.
“This election is too important to not have an open and honest discussion of the issues,” Wallace said, renewing his invitation to Wayne Herriman for a formal debate. “It is unfortunate my opponent seems to be the only candidate who does not feel the same way.”
Herriman, an agribusinessman from Muskogee, restated last week his decision to deny voters an opportunity to see the Democratic candidates go toe-to-toe. Herriman clarified earlier comments made when he declined an offer to take part in a televised debate in Claremore.
Herriman said then his people had told him there was no point in his debating Wallace. He said he was listening to constituents, not handlers. Despite renewed efforts last week to schedule a debate between Herriman and Wallace, the Muskogee man declined to commit.
Kyle Gott, who manages Wallace’s campaign, said Herriman has been on the campaign trail nearly a year. Gott noted that even though Herriman was the first Democrat to declare his candidacy, he has yet to participate in a debate.
Gott said every candidate who filed for the 2nd District seat being vacated by U.S. Rep. Dan Boren — except Herriman — had participated in a debate.
“After nearly a year into Herriman’s campaign, he still refuses to debate the issues,” Gott said. “I don’t know what Herriman is hiding or why he is afraid, but the voters of Oklahoma deserve better.”
Herriman has said the voters have had ample opportunity to hear from him and other candidates at about a dozen events throughout the sprawling 2nd District. None of those events, however, was a formal debate.
Gott said Herriman’s excuse for not debating Wallace — that it is “a little late in the campaign cycle” to debate — is an insult to voters.
“To think there is no point in debating the issues is just absurd,” he said. “Herriman needs to debate the issues or apologize to the voters.”
Despite Herriman’s hesitance to face Wallace in a formal setting, the former prosecutor said he once again is extending an invitation to his opponent.
“Voters deserve more from Herriman who is the only candidate who has not participated in a debate,” Wallace said. “I still welcome him to accept my challenge and debate the issues with me.”
Voters will have a chance to weigh in Aug. 28 on who will be the Democratic nominee regardless of whether they’re armed with what they need to cast an informed vote.
The winner will face either state Rep. George Faught of Muskogee or Westville businessman Markwayne Mullin in the Nov. 6 general election. Michael G. Fulks, an independent from Heavener, also will be on the general election ballot.
Reach D.E. Smoot at (918) 684-2901 or email@example.com.
The recent Republican debate between state Rep. George Faught of Muskogee and Westville businessman Markwayne Mullin: