Former Governor Mark Warner, basking in the limelight of having delivered the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention in Denver on Tuesday, now refuses to debate his opponents in the race for the open U.S. Senate seat in Virginia.
Consequently, the League of Women Voters has announced it is canceling the televised debate it traditionally sponsors for statewide races. According to a report in C-VILLE Weekly, a Charlottesville tabloid:
In a press release, The League of Women Voters of Virginia says it won’t hold its customary senatorial debate because former Governor Mark Warner has opted not to participate.In response to this news, Bill Redpath, the Libertarian candidate for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Republican John Warner, stated that he will debate former Governor Jim Gilmore even if Mark Warner continues to run away from his opponents. A press release from the Redpath campaign (distributed by email and likely to be posted to the campaign web site tomorrow) said:
“Exposing voters to a rigorous debate of the critical issues facing this nation today is a cornerstone of the democratic election process in America,” said Peter Maroney, vice president of WTVR, a CBS station that would have aired the debate. “It is regrettable that former Governor Warner has chosen to deny Virginians that opportunity by declining this statewide broadcast opportunity.” WCVE, a PBS station, would have also aired the debate.
Redpath said on Thursday, “I know Mark Warner is leading in the polls, but I find his decision not to debate Jim Gilmore curious. The recent history of politicians who refuse to debate their opponents in Virginia is that of defeat.”We shall see if former Governor Warner relents and chooses to face his opponents, and the voters, on television or in any other forum.
In 2001, when Redpath was the Libertarian candidate for Governor, Mark Warner allowed him into at least one debate, but Republican Mark Earley said ‘No.’ Earley lost. In 2005, when Russ Potts ran as an Independent for Governor, Democrat Tim Kaine debated him, but Republican Jerry Kilgore refused. Kilgore lost.
“There are so many vital issues that need to be fully aired for voters of the Commonwealth, that I ask the League of Women Voters to hold their debate anyway. I would certainly be there and would debate former Governor Gilmore on any topic that is germane to the U.S. Senate race in Virginia this year. The voters of Virginia deserve no less,” said Redpath.
Just what is he afraid will happen if he appears on the same stage with Gilmore and Redpath?