State Sen. Michael Baumgartner, R-Spokane, the Republican challenger this year to U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., finally can proclaim victory in his quest for a debate. He is announcing today that an ‘empty chair’ has accepted his invitation.
The backstory, of course, is that Cantwell is so far ahead in every respect – fund-raising, primary election results, polling – that if she has taken notice that she has a challenger, there’s no evidence. The frustrated Baumgartner has been demanding a debate, but there has been no response from the Cantwell camp. No phone calls, no emails, not even a flutter of an eyelash. Of course, Baumgartner’s challenge might have been a bit on the presumptious side – he wanted 39 debates in all 39 counties.
Alas, the empty chair appears to have a busy schedule, perhaps due to the burst of publicity it received when it appeared onstage at the Republican National Convention last week with actor Clint Eastwood. And so it has accepted only one debate, before the Spokane Republicans Breakfast Club. The event is likely to provide the closest contest seen in this state since Republican Bob Williams debated a cardboard cutout of Gov. Booth Gardner in 1988. An eager state awaits the outcome. Which of them will win? Here’s the press release:
Empty Chair Accepts Invitation to Debate Michael Baumgartner
September 6, 2012; Spokane, Wash. – This morning an empty chair accepted an invitation to debate U.S. Senate candidate Michael Baumgartner at the Spokane Republicans Breakfast Club. The chair responded to the request after invitations to the Maria Cantwell campaign went unanswered, weeks after Senator Baumgartner committed to the organizations preparing to host the events.
“So far, Maria Cantwell has refused to clearly state if or when she intends to debate the important issues facing our nation,” Baumgartner joked. “Thankfully, this chair has.”
“As a noted Hollywood actor put it recently, politicians need to be reminded that they work for the people, not the other way around. Participating in a debate during an election campaign is a civic duty of a public servant. It is admirable that this empty chair is willing to serve the voters of Washington so graciously and without hesitation,” said Baumgartner.
Baumgartner noted that the planning that went into this event was relatively minor compared to a typical debate for an office such as U.S. Senate. “When a civic group, a university, or a media outlet puts together a debate between candidates, that’s a ton of effort,” he said. “If you get invited, you owe it to those folks, and to the voters, to show up.”
Previous U.S. Senate races in Washington have featured debates between candidates. During the 2010 campaign for U.S. Senate, Patty Murray and Dino Rossi debated twice at events hosted by respected news outlets in Seattle and Spokane. The Spokane Republicans Breakfast Club plans to host this debate Friday, September 7 at 1003 East Trent St, Spokane. Breakfast starts at 7:00am.