Walter Jones reports in the Augusta Chronicle:
The longest-serving member of the Georgia Public Service Commission will not participate in the only televised debate scheduled for that utility-oversight panel during the general election, the Atlanta Press Club announced Tuesday on the eve of the first presidential debate.
Republican Stan Wise declined the club’s invitation for the Oct. 21 event. His only comment when asked was, “I regretted.”
The club invited Wise and his opponent, Libertarian David Staples, who has already accepted.
“I’m certainly not surprised that he would choose to not participate in a debate. He has nothing to gain,” said Staples. “He rarely makes himself available to constituents, as he appears to have a disdain for them unless they’re funding his campaign, so why would this be any different?”
Wise may have little risk of hurting his election chances by not showing up as a Republican incumbent in a red state, according to Georgia State University political science Professor Steve Anthony, a former Democratic operative. But incumbent presidents debate challengers, and Wise is going to gain a reputation for ducking out.
“It certainly should be fair game for part of the description that everyone uses to describe him,” Anthony said. “An elected official has an obligation to meet the public.”
Anyway, that means we get the awesome empty lectern.