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Republicans to host conference call asking why Skelton won't debate

PULASKI COUNTY, Mo. (Oct. 4, 2010) — U.S. Rep. Ike Skelton’s friend and colleague, Rep. Jo Ann Emerson, will be debating her Democratic challenger, Tommy Sowers, on his home turf of Rolla later this month on Sunday, Oct. 17. However, Skelton so far has refused requests by his Republican challenger, Vicky Hartzler, to have either debates or candidate forums with both present.

Sowers is a former Army Special Forces soldier whose father once owned the Rolla Daily News; Hartzler is a former Missouri State Representative who served from 1995 to 2000 in the state legislature from Harrisonville.

A Missouri Republican Party spokesman announced today that Missouri Republican Party Executive Director Lloyd Smith will be hosting a 3 p.m. Monday media conference call to discuss why their candidate is willing to debate Skelton, who so far has not accepted any debate or candidate forum invitations.

Hartzler’s media spokesman, Steve Walsh, said earlier this morning that his candidate had set aside numerous Fridays for debates or candidate forums but Skelton had declined all the venues suggested so far, most recently a candidate forum this Friday at El Dorado Springs.

“What we’re trying to do is have the congressman meet Vicky Hartzler on a stage, not in a debate, but a forum where people can ask questions,” Walsh said. “I’ve heard from Jason Rausch, and he says there will be a meeting of the two sometime before an election, but every time somebody comes up with an idea for a forum, the Skelton campaign declines.”

Walsh said he’s not clear why Skelton hasn’t accepted any of the proposed times or places for candidate forums or debates.

“I don’t know what is happening,” Walsh said. “The 4th district unemployment rate is higher than the national average, and we’re saying Congressman Skelton at least owes it to the people who pay his salary to explain his votes which have helped to create this situation.”

An e-mail message sent early Monday morning to Rausch’s office with Skelton’s campaign staff wasn’t immediately returned.

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