Laird, Blakeslee debate the debates

July 14, 2010

The two candidates in the August state Senate special election appear to be debating over the upcoming debates.

Democrat John Laird, who finished second in the June 22 primary election, challenged Republican Sam Blakeslee to publicly debate in each of the five counties represented in State Senate District 15. The district stretches from Santa Maria in the south to Santa Clara in the north. Blakeslee immediately accepted the challenge.

However, weeks later, little has been officially confirmed for a debate schedule.

The League of Women Voters is set to sponsor a debate Monday at 7 p.m. at the Cuesta College Student Center. Laird has agreed to participate and claims Blakeslee is declining.

In a press release issued Wednesday, Laird campaign spokesperson Steve Mavaligio quoted an email sent out to the candidates by Vera Wallen from the League of Women Voters. “Blakeslee’s staff has said the date is difficult for him. We have presented the opportunity to participate by conference call or other electronic means. The League continues to hope that he will participate July 26. Our League Board has voted unanimously to proceed with the forum.”

Meanwhile, Christine Robertson, Blakeslee’s chief of staff in Sacramento, responded by indicating that Blakeslee is more than willing to participate in debates–as long as they don’t conflict with his obligations in Sacramento during the week.

“We’ve had several conversations with the League, asking them for a Friday, or weekend, date,” Robertson said. “We can’t do Mondays because the Assemblyman has legislative commitments during the early part of the week.”

Robertson indicated that Blakeslee has already agreed to debate Laird in San Jose on August 5 and in Arroyo Grande on August 6.

The election is set for August 17.

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I’m no big supporter of either candidate. But without the BP disasterpalooza, I can’t help but wonder how compelling Laird’s platform would be. Is there much else he’s got to sway the voters?

Instead of skewering one another in the media and burning a ridiculous amount of finances to do it, I wish Blakeslee and Laird – and for that matter Whitman and Brown – would have done something more constructive. We voters are tired of the spin, negativity, blame shifting, and sheer meanness that candidates exhibit toward one another.

Really care for the environment? Then save tons of trees and ink. Don’t waste a dime on those nasty fliers, door hangers, and phone surveys. Really care about all this “working together” stuff your parties pontificate? Then be part of the solution before you even get into office by agreeing to put those millions of dollars to things that really matter, like hungry families, struggling farmers and small business owners….anything to give us a reason to vote for you.

It’s obvious he doesn’t need to debate Laird to win. Why would he risk his advantage?

On another note, I haven’t been to this site in over a year. What happened to all the “drama: that was the engine of this place? The subject matter seems boring from what once was

Just what are Blakeslee’s “obligations” in Sacramento besides blocking the budget? And apparently he has “obligations” in the evening when the debate is supposed to take place? Perhaps those “obligations” are fundraisers from oil and other special interests? Good for the League to go forward with their debate despite Blakeslee’s excuses.

So the “impartial” League of Women Voters acknowledged that one candidate cannot participate on the date selected and has chosen to continue without him? That does not sound very neutral/independent to me.

Something smells funny.

The “one candidate” is ducking debates. What choice did they have?

Dude, the one candidate has a job, cut him a little slack.

Sammy is in a damned-if-you-do-damned-if-you-don’t situation: If he takes his eye off the budget mess you people will fry him for politicking while he should be working. If he keeps at work, he gets hit for avoiding Laird.

I think the invocation of the exigencies of incumbency as an excuse to dodge a debate is weak. But I will say in his defense that Sammy is supported by the anti-nuclear activists who say he is the only one in Sacramento who will listen, and who will hold the feet of the PG&E slackers to the flames of the regulations with regard to safety at Diablo Canyon.