According to a story in The Everett Herald, Tea Party/Republican John Koster has pulled out of a scheduled debate with incumbent Democratic congressman, Rick Larsen (D-WA02) that was to be broadcast live on KCTS Television on Thursday 10/21/2010. At the heart of the decision to duck the live debate was the inclusion of Herald political reporter and blogger, Jerry Cornfield. Herald reporter, Noah Haglund quoted would-be ‘Congressman Koster’:
“We told KCTS if Jerry [Cornfield] was in, we were out. That was KCTS’ decision,” he said. “The campaign’s feeling pretty strongly about it.”
In a press release issued upon hearing the news of the cancellation, Brooke Davis of the Rick Larsen campaign said:
“You can’t run for Congress and run from the voters. This is now the fourth public forum that John Koster has ducked. If you are applying for the job, you can’t blow off the interview.
“It is now clear that John Koster is trying to hide his extreme views from the voters of Northwest Washington. Not only are Koster’s extreme views out of touch with the people, he cannot even be bothered to show up and defend them.
Rick Larsen has proven that he is willing to go anywhere and debate anyone on the solutions we need to move this country forward. It is a shame that John Koster is not willing to do the same.”
In fact Larsen has been praised by friend and foe alike for his willingness to engage in public forums even in settings that might be seen as “hostile environments.” Last year, during the height of the turmoil surrounding the Healthcare Reform debate, Larsen actually expanded his venue to a local baseball stadium rather than the much smaller indoor conference room that had been initially announced. He garnered national attention for this “bold move” at a time when other incumbent Democrats were scaling back their “town halls” to telephone conference calls in an effort to avoid the open hostility some of their colleagues had been experiencing. During this campaign Larsen has appeared at every forum where his congressional schedule has allowed; including a Tea Party sponsored event in Mount Vernon Bellingham.
Thus far the Koster campaign has not given any specifics as to their aversion to Jerry Cornfield being on a debate panel; he is, after all, the political reporter for the largest newspaper in the 2ndCD. I have an email in to Cornfield requesting a comment from him as well.
In a very tight contest it is disappointing for the voters to miss out on the only opportunity for this type of live interaction between the candidates and I hope that Mr. Koster will reconsider his decision.