The Atlanta Press Club will be hosting debates tomorrow including one for the Georgia 12th Congressional runoff candidates, Ray McKinney and Carl Smith. Except they won’t. Ray McKinney won’t be there. Thus, Carl Smith will debate himself, and Ray McKinney will be represented by “empty podium”.
Carl Smith has decided the drive to Atlanta is worth the TV exposure. Ray McKinney, according to the Savannah morning news, has elected to spend the 10 hours that would take in his district.
Much was made of the absence of Karen Handel at the Atlanta Press Club debate which was televised on GPTV. Handel had made her intentions known much earlier in the campaign, and did what she said she would do.
A general primary for Governor, and a runoff for a Congressional district on the other side of the state have different expectations for scheduling with a candidate. Any Candidate for Governor knows that there will be an APC/GPTV debate the weekend prior to the vote, and Handel in return gave plenty of time for the APC to alter their format if they chose to have her attend. Each side made their decisions accordingly.
A runoff election between two candidates for Congress in a district that does not touch metro Atlanta should have a different standard, however. At a minimum, the debate should be held in or near the district, so that the candidates can maximize time with those who can actually vote for them.
And why must the candidates drop what they’re doing this first critical weekend of a runoff – the first few critical days of a three week sprint where former challengers must be courted, funds must be secured, direct mail and other ads written, and a new GOTV effort launched?
From the APC:
GPB is entering its pledge drive next week, so we agreed to try to get in as many debates as possible before the drive begins.
The Atlanta Press Club and Georgia Public Broadcasting expect candidates to drop what they’re doing because GPB has a pledge drive. Awesome.
I find it extremely presumptious and arrogant that the Atlanta Press Club would think they should be able to dictate to a candidate from Southeast Georgia how a rare day during a runoff weekend should be spent, or be subjected to the “empty podium” embarassment.