Capitol Alert

Tom McClintock, Art Moore debate is off

Rep. Tom McClintock, speaking after an event in Rocklin in April, decided not to participate in a debate after his request to have a representative screen questions before the debate was denied.
Rep. Tom McClintock, speaking after an event in Rocklin in April, decided not to participate in a debate after his request to have a representative screen questions before the debate was denied. Los Angeles Times

The only planned debate between Rep. Tom McClintock and fellow Republican Art Moore has been canceled after the sponsor refused to allow the congressman to designate a representative to vet the questions in advance.

The one-hour forum hosted by the League of Women Voters’ Placer County chapter was tentatively scheduled to take place next Wednesday. Moore seized on the cancellation Thursday, calling it another example of the congressman’s pattern of disrespecting voters in the 4th district, which covers 10 counties and stretches from Truckee to Fresno.

“He doesn’t respect us enough to live here, he doesn’t respect us enough to work with local leaders to solve problems, and now he won’t even appear with me to discuss the issues and his behavior in office,” Moore said.

The Auburn native called on McClintock to reconsider, or take up his challenge to appear at another debate ahead of the Nov. 4 election.

McClintock had requested that each candidate be allowed to appoint a designee, a format he argued was needed after participating in several past league debates in which he believed that the questions decisively favored his opponent, “leading him to decline a number of subsequent LWV invitations,” spokesman Jon Huey wrote in an email.

After McClintock nominated a newly minted league member to vet the questions for fairness, the organization switched gears and said it had already put in place a team to do so.

The league in a statement Thursday afternoon said it had been negotiating with Moore and McClintock’s campaigns for five months. It said because candidate requests “were outside of the provenance and practice” of the group, no final agreement was made for the forum.

“We are very disappointed and know voters will be disappointed that this opportunity to learn more about the candidates in a real-time forum will not happen,” the statement said.

Asked if McClintock would agree to debate at another venue, his spokesman said he would.

The 4th district race, made possible by the state’s new top-two primary system, is one of 25 same-party contests across California.

Call Christopher Cadelago, Bee Capitol Bureau, (916) 326-5538. Follow him on Twitter @ccadelago

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