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Harrison tabbed for 1 of 2 Congressional debates

The candidates for Indiana’s Ninth Congressional District have tentatively agreed to debates in two of the district’s 13 counties.
Congressman Todd Young, a Republican, and his challenger, Democrat Shelli Yoder, both of Bloomington, have accepted an offer from O’Bannon Publishing Co. Inc. to host a debate in Harrison County.
‘We received the news last Wednesday that Congressman Young and candidate Shelli Yoder agreed to accept our offer to host a debate,’ Jo Ann Spieth-Saylor, editor of this newspaper, said. ‘Since then, we have been in communication with both parties’ campaign managers to work out the logistics, including a date and place, for the debate.’
The Yoder campaign had proposed 13 debates, one in each county, prior to the Nov. 6 election then, later, reduced the request to seven, the number that Young allegedly insisted on two years ago when he challenged the incumbent, Baron Hill.
However, Young said last week he would participate in two debates, the one here and the other hosted by Franklin College in Johnson County.
Katie Carlson, Yoder’s campaign manager, said Young is using words of a Bloomington Herald-Times editorial to justify only two debates.
‘In an editorial after our challenge to debate in all 13 counties in the Ninth District, the Herald-Times said three or four debates would suffice because voters can do their own research on the Internet,’ she said. ‘In his stubborn refusal to compromise, Mr. Young is hiding behind that statement to justify holding only two debates and to avoid holding them in populous areas such as Monroe, Jackson, Clark or Floyd counties. The Young campaign’s cynical interpretation of the Herald-Times’ words to justify not holding a debate in Monroe County, which has historically been the site of Congressional debates for several decades, is especially troubling.’
Trevor Foughty, Young’s campaign manager, said that Young honored an early agreement between the two candidates to negotiate directly, privately and in good faith.
‘We have been negotiating with our opponent on debate logistics for the past month to ensure that Ninth District voters understand the clear choice they face in November,’ Foughty said. ‘We think these two events provide geographic balance between the northern and southern ends of the district and between the current and new Ninth district boundaries. We’re excited that Franklin College and O’Bannon Publishing have graciously decided to host these events.
‘We wanted to make sure that both sides were committed to reaching an agreement that benefited voters, and so we wanted to negotiate away from the political theatrics,’ he said. ‘We’re proud that we stuck to that promise, even when they didn’t. We had hoped to reach a formal agreement on format, including having the questions at the debates come from the audience, but unfortunately the other side wasn’t willing to agree to such specifics at this point. Nonetheless, we look forward to a spirited and respectful debate on the issues.’
At a minimum, the Yoder campaign would like to add three additional debates to give voters options closer to their homes.
‘Adding a debate in Monroe County, one in Jackson County and one in Clark County or Floyd County is the very least that both campaigns can do to make sure voters can participate in their democracy,’ Carlson said.
Details of the debate hosted by O’Bannon Publishing Co. are expected to be ironed out next week.
‘We hope to have everything for this debate worked out by Oct. 1,’ Spieth-Saylor said. ‘It’s my understanding that Harrison County has not previously hosted a debate on this level, or at least not in a very long time. We look forward to playing a part in helping inform the voters of the Ninth District about the two candidates.’