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Debates Between Long, Eckersley Uncertain

Democratic candidate Scott Eckersley and Republican candidate Billy Long are vying for Missouri’s 7th District congressional seat, and as far as debates go, they have two conflicting stories as to who’s willing to debate. KSMU’s Ryan Welch has the story.

Scott Eckersley says Billy Long has backed out of multiple debates, including the 10 courthouse debates he had previously agreed to. Eckersley says Long must stand on his own two feet and be ready to fight in Washington, D.C. for southwest Missouri, and that he’s ready to debate Long at any time.

“I think he’s scared because he knows that we’ve got the message. He knows that we’ve got the heartbeat behind our message. I think he’s scared because he doesn’t stack up,” said Eckersley.

Eckersley says he’s confident in his own political positions.

“I’ve been in the public eye for the last three years, and I think southwest Missourians are proud of what I did, based on principle. I’m not a party guy—I’m not interested in promoting one party or another. That’s not what this election’s about. I didn’t get any phone calls after the primary night. I’m no traditional politician. I’m simply an independent guy running on a party ticket because that’s what you’ve got to do,” said Eckersley.

Billy Long, however, says he didn’t back out of anything. He says he and his campaign never committed to doing any debates with Eckersley. Long says his campaign met with Eckersley’s and didn’t like how uncooperative the Democrats were regarding the schedule for the debates.

“It just is tough to negotiate with somebody when you walk out of a room in good faith and they say, ‘Well, come back with your plan’ and we say ‘OK.’ And we leave, and 60 minutes later, we get calls from everywhere in the county wanting to know why we backed out. If that’s the game he’s going to play, it’s political theatre, and I’m just not interested in being an actor in his play,” said Long.

When Long was asked about future debates with Eckersley, he said he would only agree to debate if both sides are willing to make an honest effort to make a compromised schedule.

“I’m anxious to debate him. I want to get him on the record. I want to find out where he stands on cap and trade, where he stands on Nancy Pelosi, where he stands on immigration,” said Long.

A spokesperson for the Billy Long Campaign, Royce Reding, told KSMU on August 4 and August 17 that Long would participate in the 10 courthouse debates.

Long is an auctioneer in Springfield, and Eckersley is an attorney who used to work for Republican Governor Matt Blunt.

For KSMU News, I’m Ryan Welch.