California Democrats Won’t Debate in Any Race for Statewide Office

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 01: California Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks during a news
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They claim to be “defending democracy,” but not one of the Democratic Party candidates for statewide office in California has agreed to debate his or her opponent, rejecting what many voters see as a key part of the democratic process.

As CalMatters notes:

As Election Day approaches, you’re likely to spot Gov. Gavin Newsom popping up inplenty of television ads. You’ll see state controller candidate Malia Cohen on her various social media feeds. Attorney General Rob Bonta will be busy attending plenty of press conferences.

But what are the odds that voters will catch any of these Democrats at a televised political debate? Don’t bet on it.

That’s over the strenuous objections of their three Republican opponents and the state GOP. For weeks, controller candidate Lanhee Chen has been calling on Cohen — sometimes accompanied by a dancing chicken — to meet him on the debate stage.

On Tuesday, two other GOP candidates for statewide office joined the call. State Sen. Brian Dahle, who is running a long-shot campaign to unseat Newsom, cheered on Fox 11 anchor Elex Michaelson after the reporter offered to moderate a gubernatorial debate. Two hours later, attorney general candidate Nathan Hochman challenged Bonta to not one, but three debates — at minimum.

Democrats have rejected all of these requests for debates, though media outlets have been interested in hosting them. Breitbart News has even responded favorably to a general call from Hochman’s campaign to media outlets to host debates — to no avail.

The refusal to debate is unprecedented.

In 2014, then-incumbent Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat, agreed to debate his opponent, Republican Neal Kashkari, despite the fact that Brown led widely in the polls. Brown was widely considered to have lost the debate — largely for lack of practice against political opposition in a state where his party dominates and the media largely plays along. He went on to win reelection by a wide margin anyway — but at least he had faced his opponent.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.


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