Democratic incumbent Heather Steans is running the clock out on a promised debate with Republican challenger Adam Robinson, the Robinson campaign is charging today. According to the Robinson campaign the Steans campaign had agreed to debate Robinson in a forum supervised by the League of Women Voters of Chicago. Steans says she welcomes a debate, but there is no time left in the campaign.
Robinson (R-Edgewater) says his campaign sent Steans (D-Lakewood- Balmoral) a registered letter on Sept 23 asking for a debate. The campaign sent a copy of the letter to The Bulldog. Robinson told The Bulldog that Steans replied, calling his campaign manager, Caitlin Huxley on Sept 30 to arrange a date.
An agreement to hold the event, if it was hosted by a neutral third party, was accepted by both the Steans campaign and the Robinson campaign, according to Robinson.
“Sen Steans has debated opponents in the past,” a Steans staffer told The Bulldog. “We talked to (the Robinson campaign) about using a local community group to sponsor this. Early voting has already started. A lot of people have already voted. So when we got the invitation it was too late.”
Robinson says the League of Women Voters of Chicago agreed to host the debate on Oct 1, the day after Steans accepted his invitation.
Huxley attempted, Robinson says, to nail down a date with a Steans aid named Mustafa. However the Steans campaign kept asking for more time.
The Steans campaign said “the League of Women Voters told us they didn’t have a lot of members in the area. We were worried” the debate wouldn’t have been publicized enough to attract a wide audience, Steans’ staffer said. The Steans campaign was worried the debate would have drawn crowds from the two campaigns without drawing from the general public.
Steans “spent 3 hours in an organized GOTV event with the 48th Ward Democrats” on Sunday, Robinson told The Bulldog. “That time could have been spent in this town hall, had she made it a priority.”
League of Women Voters of Illinois President Nancy Marcus told The Bulldog the state office wasn’t aware of the event. She noted that the Chicago league may have worked on the event, but that her contacts in the Chicago league office were not aware of the event.
The Robinson campaign said League of Women Voters of Chicago President Esta Kallen was working with the campaigns on the debate. Kallen has not yet responded to two voice mails from The Bulldog.
“The League of Women Voters stepped up to host this event, but the Steans campaign has literally ignored all requests to set a date,” Huxley said in a press release.
“When we got the invitation, it was too late,” Steans campaign replied to The Bulldog. Steans “would welcomed it. The two campaigns couldn’t establish a date and time with enough opportunity to get news out to the public.”
“The fact that Senator Steans is backing out on an accepted invitation from the League of Women Voters is a pretty disturbing turn of events,” Huxley said.
“I remain ready to debate the issues with Senator Steans – any time, any place,” Robinson said in a press release.