Archive for Sunday, September 26, 2010

Debate imperative

Candidates in the Kansas governor’s race owe it to voters to participate in non-partisan televised debates.

September 26, 2010


Even if a candidate for statewide office has a full schedule of personal appearances across Kansas, the vast majority of Kansas voters never see a candidate in person.

That’s why media coverage — especially televised debates that bring opposing candidates together to answer questions and share opinions — is so important to providing voters the information they need to cast responsible ballots.

Unfortunately, Kansas voters are getting almost no opportunity to evaluate their candidates for governor in a debate format. The only debate that has been held so far was an untelevised event sponsored by WIBW radio of Topeka during the Kansas State Fair in Hutchinson.

Only one other debate opportunity appears to be on the table, according to representatives of the two major-party candidates — Republican U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback and Democratic Kansas Sen. Tom Holland. Brownback spokeswoman Sherriene Jones-Sonntag said Friday that campaign has accepted an invitation for a second debate that would be broadcast at noon Oct. 13, again on WIBW radio, during the daily “On the Other Hand” talk show and moderated by that show’s hosts, Raubin Pierce and Megan Mosack. The debate also would be televised on WIBW.

The Holland campaign initially turned down the opportunity to appear on what spokesman Seth Bundy called “an extremely right-wing talk show.” However, Bundy said Friday the campaign was working to negotiate a more neutral debate format involving WIBW radio and television.

If that effort is unsuccessful, Kansas voters may go through the entire election cycle without a single opportunity to view a televised debate between the two major-party candidates for governor. Holland’s campaign has proposed a total of four debates, one in each of the state’s congressional districts, but Jones-Sontag said Friday that Brownback’s calendar is “jam-packed” with personal appearances and it would be difficult to fit in any other debates before the Nov. 2 election.

They should try harder.

Focusing on personal appearances and shunning televised debates may serve a candidate’s political goals, but it does not serve the voters of Kansas. The only opportunity most Kansas voters have to evaluate the gubernatorial candidates is through televised debates. The debates not only showcase the candidates but provide an important forum for discussion of key issues facing the state. To deny Kansas voters that opportunity shows a disregard for their responsibility to cast informed ballots in the race that will determine who will lead their state for at least the next four years.

Time is growing short and calendars are getting full, but both Brownback and Holland owe it to voters to stage at least two or three non-partisan televised debates between now and the general election. Anything less would be an insult to Kansas voters.


cowboy 7 years, 9 months ago

Step up Dolph , you have a TV station , set up some moderators and the air time and lets roll it out. It is obvious to me that Sam feels no need to debate / expose his teflon ideas to the voters and take direct questions and confrontation from his opponent.

I think this is showing great disrespect for the voters of Kansas.

WilburM 7 years, 9 months ago

Absolutely. Great sentiments in the editorial; let's have the World Co. put its money where its mouth is!!! (and it's got lots of money)

Jonathan Kealing 7 years, 9 months ago

We invited both Tom Holland and Sam Brownback to a debate, in partnership with the Dole Institute of Politics. We were going to air the debate live on, as well as on KTKA in Topeka, Channel 6 in Lawrence and had offered it to stations in Wichita and Kansas City. The Holland campaign accepted the invitation, though the Brownback campaign declined.

Paul Decelles 7 years, 9 months ago

Maybe the LJWorld needs to do a little investigative journalism, ya think?

nobody1793 7 years, 9 months ago

How can you have a "non-partisan" debate between two people from different parties trying to get elected for the same position?

Joe Hyde 7 years, 9 months ago

I agree with the point made in this editorial, and I appreciate Mr. Kealing's post regarding the Journal-World's invitations to Brownback and Holland for a debate.

Something that has bothered me about this gubernatorial election is how Tom Holland has been virtually invisible and silent in terms of general media exposure. I don't think many Kansans have heard of him or know what he thinks about many issues. Or maybe that's not the case at all, and I've been missing the coverage that was out there. Whichever, I for one would certainly appreciate these candidates holding some open debates.

I realize, however, that open debates held on a "neutral court" probably won't happen before this election. The reason they won't is because Sen. Brownback will deliberately avoid them -- and not necessarily because he wishes to avoid issues, but as a general political strategy the frontrunner in any race historically tries to avoid open debates in order to reduce the chances of uttering some kind of blunder that loses votes.

tomatogrower 7 years, 9 months ago

"Focusing on personal appearances and shunning televised debates may serve a candidate’s political goals, but it does not serve the voters of Kansas. The only opportunity most Kansas voters have to evaluate the gubernatorial candidates is through televised debates. "

Since when does Brownback serve the voters of Kansas?

Patrick Wilbur 7 years, 9 months ago

The term nonpartisan means ALL candidates on the ballot should be included. The LJW is referring to bipartisan debates, which is much different. Mr. Gray and Mr. Cannon's ovals on the ballot are just as big as the the Rs and Ds and the voters deserve to hear all views. Otherwise a debate has zero credibility and zero use for the voters.

vermont 7 years, 9 months ago

Holland offered to fly Brownback back from Washinton on his own dime for a debate. It says something when a candidate makes an attempt to fly another back for a debate and he still finds an excuse to avoid Kansas. Shame on Sam Brownback - the most conservative politician in the Country. What is he hiding (a lot)!!! Could this be a step-stone to the presidency? Slime.

Richard Heckler 7 years, 9 months ago

Brownback and many Tea Party repubs are refusing more televised debates across the country. Apparently this is Tea Party Repub policy at all levels of election politics.

BTW what were Brownback and Moran doing while Bush and Cheney were busy wrecking the economy? Were they not paying attention? How could such a mammoth rip off take place without two long time politicians not realizing what the impact would be?

thinkks 7 years, 9 months ago

The sad thing spite of this stand...this paper will wind up endorsing Brownback

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