WASHINGTON — In an unusual but not unheard of move, the incumbent in the 1st District was the one issuing debate challenges this morning. His Republican opponent was only too happy to accept — and wants even more besides.
Second-term Democratic Rep. Tim Walz’s campaign manager today requested three 90-minute debates between now and Oct. 15 with all three people on the ballot who aim to replace him. One, in Rochester, would focus on the economy. Another in Mankato would be about Iraq and Afghanistan. A third, to be televised live, would be at a place and about a topic to be determined.
“Moving forward, Tim Walz is eager to engage in a debate with his three opponents focused on the issues that matter most to southern Minnesotans,” Walz Campaign Manager Richard Carlbom said.
While Team Demmer accepted those three debates some hours later, campaign manager Jason Flohrs said his candidate wants a further eight debates. Additionally, they’re not interested in limiting debates to just one topic.
“Your proposal for three debates is a good start, though limiting a debate to one topic only does not offer voters adequate opportunity to learn more about our very different approaches to solving the problems facing our nation,” Flohrs replied. “Make no mistake, voters across this district want to hear answers regarding the lack of job creation, slowing economic recovery, and out-of-control deficit spending. To go to Mankato (as you suggest) and duck the concerns that voters have on those issues would be a disservice to those attending.”
“There’s important issues to discuss and we need more than three debates and opportunities to discuss the candidates and issues,” Flohrs said.
Their additional debate suggestions would be forums in Rochester, Mankato, Worthington, Winona, and Owatonna, in addition to a KSTP/League of Women Voters debate, and joint appearances on Almanac and at the Rochester Chamber of Commerce.
The 1st District race is rated Likely Democrat by the most major election handicappers, and represents the Republican Party’s biggest target in Minnesota this year.
Walz starts out the favorite — he has a sizeable cash advantage and won here in 2008 with more than 62 percent of the vote. But Demmer is hard charging, had a solid 2nd quarter fundraising haul and will host House Minority Leader John Boehner for a campaign swing later this month.