A top political analyst says he is not surprised that three of the candidates running in the Tennessee Republican gubernatorial primary dropped out of the last statewide televised debate scheduled for this weekend in Knoxville.
The cancellation comes after Randy Boyd, Beth Harwell and Diane Black dropped out, WKRN said.
“My assessment is that I would guess is the debate was not going to move as many votes as [the campaigns] targeting where they need to move them,” Steve Gill, political editor of The Tennessee Star, told WKRN.
An advisor to the Bill Lee campaign said he would be there regardless and if his opponents did not show, he would hold a rally at the debate site, WVLT said.
Campaigns may not have believed a debate so close to Election Day on Aug. 2 and well into early voting would be effective, Gill said. The possibility of candidates attacking one another in a debate, like some have in recent advertising, may have been another factor, Gill said.
“Who gets the benefit of that?” Gill told WKRN. “Because the attacker is going to lose a few points and the person you are attacking is going to lose a few points — where do they go? And in these debates that is the big question mark as well. If I do well in the debate, who else moves up with me?”
The race is close between Black and Boyd, with Lee staying close by and Harwell still hanging on, Gill said.
“People are going to be voting on who they like and that impression they get, that image they portray,” Gill said. “That dictates a lot more at this point than where they are on the issues because most of them are relatively close on the issues and they are trying to create distinctions that may not be as big as their television ads portray.”
Wathc the full segment: