Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, a rising Democratic Party superstar, has continued to refuse to debate his Republican opponent, Ron Nehring. On Tuesday, Newsom and Nehring both appeared on San Francisco’s NPR affiliate, KQED–but at separate times, at Newsom’s insistence. Nehring blasted Newsom’s evasion, noting that Newsom enjoyed three debates when he ran in 2010. Now, local journalists are weighting in as well.
“What’s Gavin Newsom afraid of?” asks conservative San Francisco Chronicle columnist Debra Saunders. She notes that when KQED host Michael Krasny asked Newsom why he won’t grant Nehring a debate, Newsom replied: “I haven’t found one person that’s been saying I really wish there was a lieutenant governor’s debate.”
Nehring, who is also past chair of the state’s Republican Party, argues that holding debates would “elevate” the importance of the office.
DeLinda Mrowka, KQED’s executive director of marketing and communications, told Breitbart News that because the station’s goal is to provide listeners with all views, it has made accomodations for candidates who could not appear in studio. Newsom’s arrangement was “not an exception,” she said. However, she added that “it would be preferable” for candidates to appear at the same time, “addressing each other’s comments.”
In that vein, Nehring has offered to allow the debate to be moderated by a liberal figure, such as an MSNBC host.
But Newsom has refused. His spokesperson, Sean Clegg, told the Sacramento Bee earlier this month that Newsom had “no intention of promoting” Nehring by debating him, citing a recent minor scandal involving a mildly profane email Nehring had sent to fellow party members in the midst of a rancorous state convention.
While Nehring and California Republicans no doubt appreciate Newsom’s concern for internal GOP politics, it is not Newsom’s prerogative to “promote” Nehring, or not. That choice belongs to the voters, who “promoted” Nehring in the June primary as one of the top two finishers on the statewide ballot, regardless of party.
By running away from debate, Newsom is really holding up a greasy middle finger to the voters of California.
This post has been updated.
Senior Editor-at-Large Joel B. Pollak edits Breitbart California and is the author of the new ebook, Wacko Birds: The Fall (and Rise) of the Tea Party, available for Amazon Kindle.
Follow Joel on Twitter: @joelpollak