Gubernatorial Candidates Clash Over Debate Schedule
09/05/12 7:34AM By Bob Kinzel  Download MP3
Republican gubernatorial candidate Randy Brock says he's very disappointed that Governor Peter Shumlin will agree to only five debates during their fall campaign.
Shumlin says he's too busy being governor to participate in any additional debates and he argues that five issue-oriented debates will give voters a clear picture about the priorities of each candidate.
In 2010, Democrat Peter Shumlin and Republican Brian Dubie held a series of 13 debates but the Shumlin campaign this year is drawing the line at five debates, all sponsored by news organizations.
Two years ago, a number of special interest groups hosted gubernatorial debates but the Shumlin campaign is rejecting all of these forums this year.
That decision doesn't sit well with GOP candidate Brock because he says the debates serve an important purpose in a campaign.
"I think it's a very effective way for voters to ask the questions directly without them being filtered through media outlets, to ask the candidates directly to get a chance to interact with them both before as well as after the debate," said Brock. "And to see them live and engage each other about the issues that are important to Vermonters."
Shumlin says that he's striking a balance between being a candidate and his duties as governor.
"I think if we do five or six debates in an eight week period that's a very intensive debate schedule. Listen, two years ago I didn't have a job as governor," said Shumlin. "I'm honored to have that job right now and I have to find the balance between wanting to have lots of debates as inclusive as possible and also doing my job as governor and I think we've found it."
Brock thinks Shumlin is "afraid" to debate the key issues in their campaign.
"I ask the governor what's he afraid of? It's important for Vermonters to see and hear their candidates live and I'm prepared to do that."
Shumlin dismissed this comment and said he's looking forward to the debates with Brock.
"I think that I won't dignify that comment with a response. I'm not afraid to go anywhere and I'd invite anyone to join me every day out meeting with Vermonters and tackling the real issues that Vermont's facing."
Shumlin plans to formally launch his re-election campaign at a series of events next Monday.