In Think of the children: Paulsen, debate Barnes, Bluestem noted how Erik Paulsen had dodged a debate with DFL challenger Brian Barnes in Minnesota's suburban Third Congressional District. After ridicule on places like Comedy Central's blog, Paulsen has sort of agreed to debate in sme-public forums.
Meanwhile, in Minnesota's Second District, John Kline insists his schedule is way too busy for a debate with Mike Obermueller anytime this month, while in the Fighting First, two of three debate dates have been set for Walz and Quist.
Corndog shaming in MNCD3
After shaming Paulsen into agreeing to debate after news of the State Fair butter carving, cow milking, or corn dog eating challenge went viral, the Barnes campaign issued a statement noting how the venues Paulsen agreed to are still a bit dodgy:
Following weeks of pressure from challenger Brian Barnes that drew national media attention, Rep. Erik Paulsen has finally agreed to participate in one luncheon forum sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce that comes with an admission fee, and a televised debate that will lack any voter interaction.
Rep. Paulsen has been masterful at controlling the format and audiences of debates in his previous races. In the Chamber of Commerce debate two years ago, audio and video recordings were prohibited, and interested observers who were not members of the Chamber were charged $35 just to get in the door. This year’s Chamber forum will allow recording devices, but there will still be a fee charged to any non-member who is interested in watching the forum live.
“We proposed a series of five public debates on neutral ground with neutral moderators that would be open to the public and free of charge,” said Barnes. “But it appears Rep. Paulsen is not interested in defending his record in such an uncontrolled setting, so we will take what we can get.”
Last week at the Minnesota State Fair, Barnes suggested that Rep. Paulsen participate in a contest of cow milking, butter carving or corn dog eating, so that voters in the 3rd Congressional District can at least see their Congressman before they make their choice this November. The offer was picked up by media outlets throughout the state, as well as by Comedy Central. (Video of the State Fair challenge is available HERE)
“The voters need to understand who they are voting for this November,” said Barnes. “Many people in this district are surprised to learn that Rep. Paulsen has voted along party lines more consistently than even Rep. Bachmann. I guess having to shield his well-manicured image as a moderate from his own extremely conservative voting record would be a good reason for him to fear too much interaction with the people he expects to vote for him this November.”
On September 22, KSTP will be taping a half hour forum with the two candidates that will be aired at a later date. Then on October 18, the Chamber will be hosting the previously mentioned forum that will focus primarily on business related issues.
“I believe the voters deserve more than 90 minutes to compare the two candidates,” Barnes said. “If Rep. Paulsen is truly proud of the work he has done in Congress, he will accept our challenge, and use these opportunities to tell the voters why he is the better choice. The longer he hides from the public, the more questions it should raise in the minds of the voters.”
Meanwhile, John Kline must be off on another safari or something, since his handlers told KTSP-TV that he didn't have any open dates for a televised, 30-minute debate in September, even though the time Congress spends in Washington is limited (those time constraints are a big reason farm groups are demanding passage of a Farm Bill). The Inver Grove Heights Patch reports:
On the GOP side of the aisle, 5 Eyewitness News and 45 Local News recently invited Congressional candidates Obermueller and John Kline to an informal, 30-minute debate.
Congressman Kline’s campaign declined the invitation citing a full September schedule, despite being in session for just eight days in September.
Even Paulsen found time for one of the Channel 5/45 debates. The Obermueller campaign website asks Where Is Congressman Kline? Kline claims to have no available dates in September to discuss issues important to voters:
Where is Congressman Kline? Recently, 5 Eyewitness News and 45 Local News invited candidates for Congress in Minnesota’s 2nd Congressional District to an informal, 30-minute debate. Congressman Kline’s campaign claimed he had no available dates in September to attend. So what is filling up the Congressman’s schedule? Congress is only in session for all of eight days in September, so we know that’s not it. His campaign schedule shows only a few weekend events in September. So where is Congressman Kline?
“Voters deserve a representative who isn’t afraid to discuss the issues,” said Mike Obermueller, candidate for Congress in CD2. “Why can’t Congressman Kline find the time to discuss the issues important to second district voters? As a Representative, why isn’t he in the community, talking to residents about their concerns and needs? Perhaps it's because he's not looking forward to defending his record of voting to end Medicare as we know it just to pay for tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires. I talk to people in this district every day and hear their frustrations with the broken system in Congress. They want their voices to be heard. There is a clear choice in this election and voters deserve an honest debate."
The newly-redistricted Second Congressional District is considered to be in play. PIM's Briana Bierschbach wrote in DFLers eye friendlier turf in Kline’s redrawn district:
Democrats point to the new maps when asked why they are suddenly so sunny about their prospects in the district. Before the state’s new political lines were solidified in February, the 2nd District was reliably conservative. Two-thirds of the district fell in the metro area, but rural areas in Rice and Le Sueur Counties played a major part in keeping Republicans in control. . . .
The new maps provided little good news to Team Kline. In addition to LeSueur and Rice Counties, the district lost Carver County, one of the most conservative in the state, to the 3rd and 6th Districts. On top of that, the district picked up reliably DFL parts of Rep. Betty McCollum’s old 4th District in West St. Paul, and parts of South St. Paul and Mendota Heights. Kline saw his comfortably conservative district – with a plus-four GOP index – move about two points toward the middle, Carleton College political science professor Steven Schier said.
Shortly after that article, PIM reported in Obermueller-Kline race upgraded by Washington Democrats that Obermueller's campaign in the southern suburbs/rural Minnesota district had been placed on the DCCC's "Red to Blue" list.
Other districts: debates past and future
It's worth noting that both metro incumbent U.S. representatives Keith Ellison and Betty McCollum participated in lively debates at the Minnesota State Fair, while Quist, Walz and primary "bump in the road" candidate Mike Parry sparred at Farmfest. In CD7, incumbent Collin Peterson and GOP opponent Lee Byberg were on the Farmfest forum and met just days later in a forum at the Stevens County Fair in Morris.
No debate dates have been announced yet, the Stillwater Gazette reports in Graves sings competitive tune in 6th District, but a date should be released soon after months of Bachmann dallying in other districts:
While the event was harmonious, Graves’ campaign chair, son Adam, had a discordant message for Bachmann, wondering why she hasn’t responded to their invitation to debate, sent by certified mail a month ago.
“It’s hard to respond when she’s out in Washington D.C., New York and giving speeches outside her district,” said Adam Graves. “We’d like to have a series of debates with her in all regions of the district, but so far not one debate is scheduled.”
Bachman Campaign Manager Chase Kroll said Wednesday that Rep. Bachmann is looking forward to debating Graves, and he said the first debate is being scheduled, and could be announced this week.
In Minnesota's Eighth, Representative Chip Cravaack will debate Rick Nolan in Duluth in October, but won't make any public campaign appearances in his district's largest city until then, as we noted in Nimrod parade: Cravaack's next public Duluth appearance Oct. 9 for debate with Rick Nolan,
Congressman Walz and Republican Allen Quist have set dates for two debates. The New Ulm Journal reports:
Two debates for the candidates in the 1st Congressional District have been set.
Republican Allen Quist and Democrat incumbent Rep. Tim Walz will debate on Thursday, Sept. 27 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Somberby Golf Community in Byron. The candidates will participate in Debate Minnesota on Tuesday, Oct. 9 in Mankato. The final debate has not yet been set.
The Debate Minnesota event is likely to be held at Minnesota State Mankato, since the organization prefers to hold its forums on college campuses.
It's certainly curious that of all the candidates, Kline can't commit. One would think that, given the new areas he has in his district, he'd like the voters to get to know him. But then, Kline was reluctant to hold town halls, even in his old Republican-favored district.
Photos: Brian Barnes (top); Mike Obermueller (middle); John Kline (below), in office in 2009, sharing a theory about town halls.