from the inbox:
Representative Bryan Lentz, Democratic nominee for Congress in the 7th District, today accepted another invitation to debate his opponent, corporate attorney Pat Meehan. The independent and well-respected League of Women Voters has offered to host a debate in October at the Delaware County Community College auditorium. As he has with prior invitations and policy questions, Meehan has vacillated between being evasive and outright ignoring the invite.
This is the second time in less than a month Meehan has snubbed a debate offer from a non-partisan organization that Lentz has accepted. These actions seemingly contradict an email Meehan sent to supporters following the May primary stating he looks forward to setting up “a vigorous series of debates” with his opponent. When a reporter attempted to contact Meehan’s campaign to discuss actual debates, Meehan “did not return messages seeking comment this week.”
The first debate invitation Meehan evaded was extended by the United Steelworkers in late May. That organization secured a respected, independent moderator, Delaware County Daily Times Editor Phil Heron to ensure that the debate was conducted in a fair, open and non-partisan manner. Although Lentz immediately accepted the invitation, corporate attorney Pat Meehan has so far declined to participate in any cooperative scheduling or otherwise acknowledge participation in the debate.
The League of Women Voters is a universally-respected nonpartisan organization that has a longstanding tradition of hosting candidate debates to enhance our nation’s democratic process. The League’s invitation came on the heels of announcements from both candidates that they would be happy to debate each other immediately following the May primary. Bryan Lentz has stuck to his word; Pat Meehan has not.
“Hard-working Pennsylvanians don’t want a career politician who feels entitled to a coronation—they want leadership and representatives who are willing to fight for them and answer to them about where they stand on issues,” said Bryan Lentz. “I am proud of my record as a tough in-court prosecutor and former Airborne Ranger in the Army, and I firmly believe we should give the voters every opportunity to compare our backgrounds and our positions on issues.”
“If Pat Meehan is afraid to debate in front of newspaper editors and the League of Women Voters, then I wonder if he is honestly willing to debate at all,” said Lentz Campaign manger Vincent Rongione.
“Personally, I am thrilled to have such well-respected and independent organizations offering to host and moderate the debates. It is a testament to the importance of this race and the need for voters to get a full and fair picture of the candidates before they vote. I look forward to a series of fair and open discussions of the issues,” added Lentz.
Many are beginning to question why Meehan, a George W. Bush political appointee and a former aide to Rick Santorum and Arlen Specter, has repeatedly ducked, canceled or otherwise failed to debate with Lentz. Recent revelations regarding the fact that Pat Meehan has never personally prosecuted a case could shed some light on why he is shying away from public appearances with Lentz.
What we do know is that Meehan was a no-show at the election’s first debate back in February. In March, he tentatively agreed to a debate with Lentz over the health reform bill on conservative talk radio—then at the last minute, he pulled out. At the only candidate forum he has deigned to attend, also in March, Meehan stayed for less than thirty minutes and took only two questions before hastily exiting for an undisclosed event.