Dougherty laid down a challenge to three debates—one in Tucson, one in Phoenix and one in Flagstaff—to the other Democrats in the race for the Senate seat now held by Republican John McCain. He gave them a deadline of noon on Tuesday, June 8, to respond.
The other two Democrats in the race—former state lawmaker Cathy Eden and labor organizer Randy Parraz—said they were in.
But Glassman didn’t reply—which led to a story in yesterday’s Arizona Daily Star that made it look like Glassman was ducking the chance to debate his fellow Democrats.
Glassman campaign spokesman Blake Morlock says his candidate will get around to debating the other Democrats, eventually.
“We’re going to be looking for more legitimate forums and we’re going to be looking for opportunities,” says Blake Morlock, spokesman for the Glassman campaign. “This idea that we will have no debates is just made up
by the other side.”
But Morlock says the campaign won’t commit to having debates in Tucson, Phoenix and Flagstaff as Dougherty suggested.
But he’s only the front-runner in a race where most voters don’t know anything about the candidates. And it’s only the race to decide the Democratic nominee; whoever wins the primary is still the underdog in a statewide race against McCain (or even against Republican J.D. Hayworth, should he pull off his challenge against Arizona’s senior senator).
By ignoring Dougherty’s proposal, Glassman looks like he’s scared to debate his opponents. That plays into the other narrative that he has to overcome, which is that he’s not ready for the job of U.S. senator.
If Glassman had said yes, he would have shown that he’s not afraid to take on any challenge. And the debates would be a good for him, anyway, because it would help him hone his skills in front of audiences.
Instead, he’s getting stories about how he might be too elitist to debate his fellow Democrats.
And now, when he does agree to debates (and can he really get away with not debating the others without looking like a wuss?), it’ll look like he capitulated to Dougherty.
Glassman shouldn’t have ignored Dougherty’s proposal. He should have one-upped him and demanded a fourth debate in Yuma.