Debate schedules cause confusion

“She should be accessible to her constituents, and she’s not,” Ms. Cobb said. “I hope my reputation is my accessibility.”

From an article by Abraham Kenmore on the Watertown Daily Times website published 9/1/18.
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U.S. Rep. Elise M. Stefanik, R-Willsboro, announced Monday three televised debates in the NY-21 congressional race, specifically naming her opponents, Democrat Tedra L. Cobb and Green Party candidate Lynn S. Kahn. But the Cobb campaign had not confirmed as of Friday its attendance at one of those debates.

The news release from the Stefanik campaign listed three TV channels — Mountain Lake PBS in Plattsburgh on Oct. 23, WWNY in Watertown on Oct. 30, and Spectrum News in Albany on a date and time yet to be announced. As of Friday, Ms. Cobb had not confirmed her participation in the Albany debate.

“I don’t know why there’s so much confusion,” Ms. Cobb said on Friday. “Perhaps (Ms. Stefanik is) disorganized.”

A spokesperson for Spectrum declined to comment on the record about debate scheduling.

The Stefanik campaign confirmed that all three television stations were notified ahead of sending out the news release, and that the campaign has been working with them since around the time of the Democratic primary in June. A representative of the campaign also said it was not the Stefanik campaign’s responsibility to confirm the debates with other campaigns.

Meanwhile, Ms. Cobb and Ms. Kahn will be attending a candidate forum on Oct. 18, organized by the League of Women Voters of Saratoga County, tentatively located at the Lake George High School. Ms. Stefanik will not be attending.

“I am not surprised (Ms. Stefanik) is doing three in-studio debates,” Ms. Cobb said.

Ms. Cobb thinks that the events should include as much participation as possible from voters, and said she would not agree to three studio debates without an audience.

“We want to increase voters’ access to us, not decrease it,” she said.

The spokesman for Ms. Stefanik’s campaign, Lenny Alcivar, said Ms. Cobb was free to participate or not in any debates she wanted to.

“It is telling that Tedra Cobb pretends to want a public debate against the Congresswoman when she has put forth no policy ideas and no positions about her record,” Mr. Alcivar said. “If Tedra Cobb wants to boycott the most widely viewed television debate in the north country (on Spectrum), she has a right to do so.”

Ms. Cobb also repeated a frequent criticism of Ms. Stefanik that she has avoided meeting with residents.

“She should be accessible to her constituents, and she’s not,” Ms. Cobb said. “I hope my reputation is my accessibility.”

Ms. Cobb hoped that voters would be able to participate in the debates in some way.

“What I’d like to hear is what voters care about,” she said. “The way to do this is to be in the open,”

Ms. Cobb also pointed to Ms. Stefanik’s declining invitations to the dozen or so forums held during the Democratic primary, which also included Ms. Kahn and a Republican candidate trying to challenge Ms. Stefanik in a primary.

“She was invited, she didn’t attend,” Ms. Cobb said. “Not even one.”

Mr. Alcivar said at the time that Ms. Stefanik would not participate in a primary event and would debate in the general election.

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