Payton Perspective: Candidates who won’t debate show arrogance toward voters

Payton Perspective logoBy Allen Payton

Candidates who won’t debate their opponents during campaigns show arrogance and disdain to the voters they’re wanting to represent.

Usually it’s the candidate who is leading in the race, and usually it’s the incumbent or officeholder running for higher office against a less well-known candidate who is challenging them.

The other word that comes to mind is chicken. Those who won’t debate are afraid of either something about them or their record being shared by their opponent that they can’t defend, or questions from the media they don’t want to have to answer. Ultimately they’re afraid of losing votes.

Two current examples are Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom, and more locally, State Senator Mark DeSaulnier.

Newsom, in his bid for re-election, faces former California Republican State Party Chairman Ron Nehring in the November election. The former Mayor of San Francisco refuses to face Nehring to debate the issues and his record as Lt. Governor.

DeSaulnier, running for Congress against retired Federal Immigration Judge Tue Phan, wouldn’t appear at a Walnut Creek Sunrise Rotary Club debate, scheduled for yesterday (Tuesday, October 14).

I view campaigns as the time the public gets to decide whether to hire a new office seeker, renew the contract for an incumbent running for reelection, or give a promotion to a candidate running for higher office.

The election is the interview and job performance review process. We the people, as their employers, have a right to know what all candidates believe, hear all candidates share their positions on the issues and defend their records. All candidates have that responsibility.

Those who won’t debate their opponents fail their performance review and don’t deserve to be hired, have their contract renewed or promoted.

While it may be a clever campaign tactic, it’s just wrong and disrespectful to the voters.

It’s time Newsom and DeSaulnier show some respect to their bosses – those of us whom they want to continue serving – and debate their opponents.


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