Indiana News

Congressional Challengers Demand More Debates

At least nine faceoffs scheduled in six House districts


Carlos A. May
( photo: Eric Berman)

With Election Day a month away, Indiana congressional candidates are squaring off in debates -- with some underdogs complaining there should be more.

Republican Carlos A. May has blasted Seventh District Congressman Andre Carson for accepting just one debate. May had called for 13 debates, including one in each of Marion County's nine townships. He says he'll make that circuit by himself, plus a 10th in Beech Grove.

Democrat Scott Reske is similarly critical of Fifth District Republican nominee Susan Brooks for agreeing to just two, and rejecting two others. Reske had called for eight debates, one in each county in the district.

Reske and May both argue the fewer debates there are, the more questions should be raised about their opponents' commitment to constituent service and accessibility if they're elected. The Brooks and Carson campaigns accuse the challengers of stunts to score political points. Both emphasize they have agreed to debates -- just not as many as the challengers want. Brooks' campaign notes she and Reske are making several joint appearances along with the formal debates. And Carson's campaign says it cut off negotiations last week only after May ran ads accusing Carson of dodging debates while talks were still open.

Both Carson and Brooks are heavy favorites, and May acknowledges it's easy for a challenger to demand dozens of debates. He's pledging to take the same position as an incumbent if he defeats Carson -- he says he'll commit to debates in each township against the Democratic nominee in 2014. For now, though, he's playing the challenger role, persuading Indy's Chicken Limo company to put a sign jabbing Carson on the car roof next to its signature giant yellow chicken head.

Sixth District candidates Luke Messer (R), Brad Bookout (D) and Rex Bell (L) held their second debate last week in Muncie. Two debates are scheduled in the Eighth and Ninth Districts, expected to be among the state's more competitive House races, and one in the Fourth District, where Republican Congressman Todd Rokita is favored.


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