Walker declines additional debates

    If you present a Wisconsin gubernatorial debate and only one candidate shows up, do you still go ahead with the program?
    Several organizations across the state may soon be pondering that question.
    Democrat Tom Barrett has accepted invitations to attend nine more debates in the state.
    However, Barrett’s Republican opponent, Scott Walker, has only committed to attending two of those debates: the WISN/WisPolitics.com Town Hall Challenge in Milwaukee on Oct. 15 and the We the People Wisconsin debate in Madison on Oct. 29.
    The Barrett camp has committed to attending seven more debates being scheduled by the following organizations: the Wisconsin Institute for Public Policy and Service in Wausau on Oct. 19; the Kiwanis Club of Green Bay; the Western Wisconsin Press Club in Eau Claire; the Kenosha Area Business Alliance in Kenosha; the University of Wisconsin-Platteville; UW-Superior; and the NAACP Candidate Forum in Milwaukee.
    Barrett and Walker squared off in their first debate last Friday night.
    When asked if Walker will attend any of the other debates, Jill Bader, communications director of Walker’s campaign, responded by e-mail. “We’ve already agreed to 3 statewide debates. We’ve finished one. The other 2 are highlighted.”
    When asked again if Walker would attend the other debates, Bader replied, “We’ve already accepted three statewide debates.”
    Barrett campaign communications director Phil Walzak said, “If Scott Walker wants to say no to the people in Wausau, Green Bay, Kenosha, Platteville and Eau Claire, that’s on him to explain … Tom Barrett believes a series of vigorous discussions on the issues facing Wisconsin, held in every corner of the state, will give voters the best opportunity to decide for themselves which person has the best plans to move Wisconsin forward. Tom is excited to share his positive vision to fight for jobs and put state government on a diet with voters in communities in every region of Wisconsin, and we hope Scott Walker will join Tom at these events."
    Eric Giordano, executive director of the Wisconsin Institute for Public Policy and Service in Wausau, said Walker has declined to attend the Wausau event, while Barrett accepted the invitation.
    The organization is appealing to Walker to reconsider his decision, Giordano said.
    “We made an appeal, stating that it’s in the interests of the citizens of Wisconsin outside of the southern corridor to hear from the candidates,” Giordano said. “We have not yet heard back.”
    The institute has discussed the potential of allowing Barrett to speak by himself on the date of the scheduled debate if Walker declines the invitation a second time, Giordano said.
    The debate in Wausau was scheduled to include questions from a panel of high school students from Marathon County. The Wisconsin Institute for Public Policy and Service is working with Kids Voting USA-Wisconsin, a state chapter of a national nonprofit organization that teaches high school students about voting and the election process. Marathon County students are scheduled to hold a mock election during the week that the debate would be held in Wausau.
    – BizTimes Milwaukee

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