Democratic Michigan Senate candidate Rep. Gary Peters still refuses to debate his Republican opponent Terri Lynn Land, despite a previous promise to do so.
Peters announced in a press release in June that he had accepted three debate invitations, called on Land to meet him in the debating halls, slammed her for not holding public events, and published an open letter to Land in which he declared, “I propose five public, televised, town-hall style debates across our state on the issues that I’ve heard through this listening tour and that matter the most to our future and all of our families as Michiganders.”
So, pretty clear. Hard to misinterpret that.
Land conducted a live town hall on a Michigan radio station on Oct. 3. Peters’ campaign canceled debate negotiations 45 minutes after the town hall ended. Peters’ campaign also skipped a conference call three days later, in which the campaigns were supposed to negotiate their debate schedule.
The Land campaign requested a moderated debate. The Peters campaign said Wednesday that it wants a townhall debate. Local news reporters Chuck Stokes of WXYZ and Rick Albin of WOOD-TV came up with the idea to do a debate that would be half townhall and half moderated. Land accepted the deal. Peters refused to do it.
Stokes explained what happened in a YouTube video.
“There was a point in which I suggested, realizing how far the two were apart on format, which I said let’s try to do both,” Stokes said. “That we could have half the program as a town hall type of form and the other half as a truer style type of moderated debate, and both camps said they would go back to their people and talk about it. The Land camp came back and said, ‘We accept that.’ The Peters campaign, who originally accepted a debate from WXYZ early on when we first sent the letters out, which was several months ago now, said ‘No.'”
The Peters campaign did not immediately return a request for comment.
The Peters campaign fired back, citing phone tag in the negotiations but acknowledging that no deal is yet in place for a debate.
“After an initial phone conversation at 10 a.m. today, negotiations by phone between both campaigns and the station were set to resume at noon,” said Peters spokeswoman Haley Morris in a statement. “Peters’ debate negotiator, Lt. Gov. John Cherry, never received another phone call.”
Meanwhile, the Land campaign has accused the Peters campaign of “lying” in its explanation.
“Gary Peters and his campaign are doing everything they can to avoid debating Terri Lynn Land, including lying,” said Land spokeswoman Heather Swift. “Terri stands ready to debate Gary Peters, but Peters obviously has cold feet and has resorted to lies and attacking respected journalist Chuck Stokes.”