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The day after the primary elections for Missouri’s 7th Congressional District, Republican winner Billy Long agreed to participate in a series of 10 courthouse debates with his Democratic opponent, Scott Eckersley. Eckersley now claims that Long is stalling on setting up those debates. Long’s campaign, however, says Eckersley claims are just a cry for attention. KSMU’s Adam Murphy reports.
From the steps of the Greene County Courthouse, Eckersley said that the voters of southwest Missouri deserve to hear a public discourse, so that they can make the most educated votes possible. He says Long has not returned his calls, though, to set up those debates in each of the district’s 10 counties.
“Why not get out there and get on the courthouse steps, sweat with folks, and talk, especially to these small town newspapers who so well have their fingers on the pulse of what’s going on in their communities,” said Eckersley.
Eckersley announced at the press conference that three of the Republican candidates for the primary, Jeff Wisdom, Mike Moon, and Mike Wardell, also support these debates, and are encouraging Long to participate as he promised.
“Who could be against it? And they’re not and good for them. Men of integrity standing up that they’re in favor of public discourse about whose going to take control, whose going to take ownership of this district, and take those interests and concerns to Washington,” said Eckersley.
Mike Wardell also announced his support for Eckersley in the congressional race. He says he believes Eckersley has the integrity to serve the people of the 7th district without being influenced by special interests. Wardell says he believes Long is “weak” in the areas of veterans’ issues and foreign policy. He says Long also does not have as good of an understanding of what’s going on in the district.
“Some of the things that he has done and said have, in my opinion, put the district and put our nation potentially in jeopardy: his lifestyle, his businesses. I’m saying he’s been a very successful man, but I don’t think we need representation in Congress who doesn’t know what he is doing. I thought he would know better,” said Wardell.
Royce Reding is Long’s campaign manager. He says the hold-up in scheduling the debates is not on their end.
“I called the Eckersley campaign again this morning, and they have not yet returned my phone call again. We could have done this if he would just simply answer his phone instead of holding press conferences. If he wants to make this a media circus, then he’s going to have to bring his own tent,” said Reding.
Reding confirmed once again that Long does intend to participate in the debates with Eckersley.
For KSMU News, I’m Adam Murphy.