Republican Sean Duffy's campaign is accusing Dem Julie Lassa of ducking a primetime TV debate, and a representative from the station trying to coordinate it is frustrated by her delay in accepting the invitation.
The 7th CD opponents have been given the chance to debate live on WSAW, the Wausau CBS affiliate, on Oct. 17. The hour-long debate would begin at 7 p.m., a prime slot following "60 Minutes."
Duffy initially proposed 20 debates, one in each county in the district, a difficult demand to pull off given the short time between the Sept. 14 primary and the Nov. 2 election. The Lassa campaign called it "a cheap political stunt."
Lassa issued a challenge to eight debates and forums. The Duffy campaign says most of the proposed events don't call for the candidates to appear together, and don't offer the exposure the WSAW debate does.
"This is an opportunity for every person in the 7th to watch the debate live at the same time. Why on Earth won't Senator Lassa agree to this established primetime TV debate when she's already agreed to a debate at UW-Barron County that doesn't even have a time, date or format set and is miles away from any TV station or large media outlet?" said Duffy campaign spokeswoman Wendy Riemann.
Lassa campaign manager Rick Fromberg said the campaign has accepted invites to eight events and having all candidates involved will best help voters make an informed choice.
“We have been involved in discussions regarding the details of numerous debates across the district, including today with WSAW, and we are committed to making sure that all voters in the 7th District can hear the candidates’ positions,” he said.
See Lassa's release in which she proposes 8 debates/forums here.
See Duffy's release accusing her of ducking the WSAW debate here.
"If I offered that same time period to any other candidates for a debate, they would immediately give me a resounding 'Yes,'" said Al Lancaster, vice president and general manager at WSAW.
"This should have been a slam dunk. I can’t tell you why it’s not," Lancaster said.
The debate would also be picked up by the Duluth CBS affiliate, and C-Span is interested in airing it, possibly live, Lancaster said. In addition, radio stations in Rice Lake and Hayward have agreed to live broadcasts of the event, he said.
Between the two TV stations, the debate would be aired across the entire district, Lancaster said.
Lancaster said he offered the debate up to Duffy on Sept. 9, and he agreed the next day. Lassa was first approached about the debate on Sept. 1 and he says he has run into "extreme difficulties" in getting a commitment from the Dem.
Among Lassa's concerns, according to Lancaster, is whether the candidates would be at podiums or seated. Lancaster granted Lassa's request to be seated. She has also asked that Tea Party candidate Gary Kauther be invited, something Lancaster has declined due to time considerations.