Republican Karin Housley debated an empty podium Sunday night after Democratic opponent Sen. Tina Smith (D-MN) declined to participate due to a “complicated schedule.”
But nobody seems to know what scheduling conflicts in particular prevented Smith from attending, and Smith herself didn’t elaborate beyond saying that she has “just a big, complicated schedule.”
The Minnesota Sun reached out to Smith’s campaign for more details on the alleged scheduling conflicts, but did not immediately receive a response.
Housley, however, was still granted fifteen minutes of airtime by KSTP, and she repeatedly went after Smith for skipping the debate.
“Minnesotans did not elect Tin Smith—and her refusal to participate in the only statewide televised debate of the campaign shows just how little value she places in earning the votes of those she claims to represent,” Housley stated in a press release after the debate, saying that “Minnesotans can always count on me to show up.”
During Sunday night’s debates, Smith’s campaign put out a fundraising letter stating that it “missed” its “weekly goal” and is “at risk of having to make even deeper cuts.”
— Preya Samsundar (@psamsundar) October 22, 2018
“And with the latest poll showing this race within three points, we can’t afford to cut our budget another dollar if we’re going to win this race,” the letter continued.
Smith also declined to participate in debates during the Democratic-Farmer-Labor (DFL) Party primaries, and “did not reply” to an invitation to participate in an August debate. Richard Painter, one of her DFL challengers, even offered to “fly to Washington” to debate her.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) also initially declined to participate in Sunday’s debate, but agreed to arrange for a pre-recorded debate that was televised Sunday night, making Smith the only major candidate for elected office in Minnesota not to participate in KSTP’s day of debates.
According to a Monday poll, Housley currently trails Smith 41 percent to 47 percent.
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