Republican primary candidates in the newly created 37th District of the Tennessee House of Representatives will not debate after one contender denied a request from an opponent.
Dawn White’s campaign sent out a press release Tuesday saying she will not debate her opponent in the August Republican primary, Richard Garvin. He asked her to debate in an open letter late last week.
“Dawn White believes candidates should personally make an effort to take their messages directly to the voters, and she is doing exactly that,” said Amelia Bozeman, who serves as White's campaign manager. “To learn about a candidate, voters should not have to attend a staged event where they will only hear rehearsed political rhetoric and canned answers.”
Garvin’s camp also sent out a press release expressing its disappointment at the news.
“It’s unfortunate that Mrs. White won’t allow the voters of the 37th District the opportunity to hear our solutions to the problems facing our state,” Garvin said.“While my request to Mrs. White remains open, my campaign will be announcing several town hall meetings in the coming weeks to share my plan to bring higher paying jobs to Rutherford County.”
Bozeman went on to accuse Garvin of using a cheap political stunt to get “free publicity.”
“I understand Mr. Garvin’s need to garner free publicity and to attempt to prove himself as a Republican,” she said. “On several occasions, Richard Garvin has publicly stated that he voted for (President) Barack Obama. In fact, he had never even voted in a Republican primary until after he declared his candidacy for this very seat just a few short months ago.”
She then touted White’s credentials as a “lifelong conservative Republican, who has worked to support conservative principles and candidates for years. … Dawn White is the only conservative in this race. For these reasons, Dawn will not be debating Mr. Garvin.”
The Garvin campaign shot back that White should stop taking advice from Rutherford County Republican Executive Committeeman Tim Rudd.
“Mr. Rudd recently sent a controversial e-mail to local candidates urging them to not participate in public debates or forums that aren't sponsored by the Republican Party,” said Corey Lester, campaign manager for Garvin. “It’s questionable why Mr. Rudd doesn’t want his candidate to discuss her platform in a public forum with Mr. Garvin present. It appears Mrs. White and her consultant have decided to engage in these Washington-style politics with the voters in an attempt to avoid public scrutiny.”
Garvin also defended his vote in 2008.
"In 2008, I did vote for Obama, it was a decision I regret whole-heartedly," he said "I have personally been affected by the results of his failed economic policies, broken promises, and lack of care for small businesses."
Late last week, Garvin’s campaign offered White the opportunity to choose the time, date and place of the debate.
"While my request to Mrs. White remains open, my campaign will be announcing several town hall meetings in the coming weeks to share my plan to bring higher paying jobs to Rutherford County," Garvin said.
The offer was extended after a leaked e-mail surfaced. In the e-mail Rudd forbade candidates from participating in debates or forums that are not sponsored by the local Republican Party.