Gov. Asa Hutchinson and 2nd District U.S. Rep. French Hill have refused to participate in TV debates scheduled in September.
The plan is for a gubernatorial debate on Sept. 10 to be aired on KATV, KFSM in Fort Smith and KAIT in Jonesboro and a 2nd District debate on Sept. 19. Only Democrat Jared Henderson and Libertarian Mark West will participate in the gubernatorial debate. Democrat Clarke Tucker will appear alone on Sept. 19. for the 2nd District.
No reasons were given by Hutchinson and Hill not to appear. Their opponents expressed disappointment, according to this account.
No word yet on whether Hutchinson or Hill will appear on AETN debates. UPDATE: AETN has announced that all candidates for state and congressional office have agreed to appear in their debates Oct. 8-12.
Hill ran like a scalded dog from Indivisible activists attempting to question him at a public appearance recently on congressional Republican talk of cutting Medicare. Statewide TV exposure on the question perhaps isn’t viewed as prudent by the millionaire banker.
Henderson’s campaign hit back hardest at the debate-skippers. His campaign sent me a statement, which said in part:
It’s no surprise that Asa Hutchinson no longer wants to be on the same stage, because I’m holding him accountable on Arkansas’s corrupt state government, crumbling infrastructure, teacher pay, tax cuts for the wealthy, and leaving behind rural communities. As Governor, I will answer to the voters of Arkansas anytime, anywhere and fight to make Arkansas the best place in the country to be a public school teacher, protect our rural hospitals, lower the cost of health care, promote small business development, and tackle childhood poverty.
Said a statement from Tucker in part:
Voters across this district want and deserve the opportunity to ask Congressman Hill about his vote for a billionaire’s tax cut on the backs of our seniors’ hard-earned Medicare and Social Security and why he attempted to make it harder, if not impossible, for those with pre-existing conditions to get coverage.