Congressman Scott DesJarlais is seeking re-election. Whether he will be seeking a debate with challenger Eric Stewart is another matter.
Stewart has accepted an invitation to a Southern Standard/ WCPI political forum Oct. 11 at Warren County High School. DesJarlais is refusing to commit, or even comment on the matter, in requests made by the Standard.
In an email sent to the newspaper yesterday, DesJarlais campaign manager Brandon Lewis said, “Thank you so much for getting in touch with us. We have put the forum on our potential event calendar along with other events for that day. With 16 counties to cover and with the forum almost a month away, I’m afraid we can’t commit at this time. Thanks and we will let you know closer to the event.”
Stewart is angered by the fact DesJarlais has refused to commit to a debate. He is even launching a website where voters can go online and sign a petition, www.need4debate.com.
“I am shocked, but not surprised, that DesJarlais does not want to face voters and have a debate over the issues important to people in this district,” Stewart said. “The people in the 4th Congressional District deserve to have the opportunity for all candidates for public office to come before them and give them the chance to look both candidates in the eyes and hear where they stand on issues.”
Stewart says DesJarlais has no plans to debate and has conveyed that message to him in an email. Stewart’s communication director, Avery Poor, sent a copy of the email that was supposedly written by DesJarlais to the Standard.
The email says:
As you know well, defining your candidacy and building awareness is both difficult and expensive. However, taking a firm stand on issues and offering thoughtful solutions is not. I have yet to see you put forth any substantive platform, only empty slogans and negative attacks The people I serve deserve to know who you feel should lead our nation as president and for you to be forthcoming in your views on key issues. While I am open to revisiting the debate question later in the campaign, your lack of clarity on the issues gives me no reason for or basis from which we could currently debate.
Dr. Scott DesJarlais, M.D.
Requests from the Southern Standard to get a comment from DesJarlais on the email, or his thoughts about debating Stewart, were unsuccessful. DesJarlais campaign manager Brandon Lewis called Stewart’s desire to have a debate an act of “desperation” in an email sent to the Standard yesterday afternoon.
“It seems that his desperation will drive him to any length short of thoughtful consideration about what it would take to solve our nation’s problems,” Lewis wrote in the email.