One of the challengers for the Republican nomination for the District 7 seat in the state House of Representatives will not be participating in a debate scheduled to take place three days before the Thursday primary election.
On Saturday, Phil Carriger informed his opponent Todd Franklin, who devised and helped create the event, that he would not attend the debate, which is scheduled to take place from 7-9 p.m. Monday at the Jonesborough Visitors Center.
Carriger, Franklin and incumbent state Rep. Matthew Hill are all vying for the seat, and had all agreed to participate in the debate. In a phone interview, Carriger said he decided against participating in the debate, however, because of confusion over certain details.
“The last communication from Mr. Franklin was that he really didn’t know ... the rules, the outline (or) how it was going to proceed,” Carriger said. “He said he didn’t know how many questions, what type of questions, could you respond (and) what the parameters would be.
“I felt like, with it being that disorganized and with a few days to go, I would not participate.”
Franklin said he received a call from Carriger on Saturday morning notifying him that he would not be participating.
“He said it was too late and he didn’t have enough time to prepare,” Franklin said. “Maybe he’ll change his mind. We hope he will.”
Some of that confusion may have been caused, Franklin said, by a sudden shift in the debate’s format. The debate had originally been scheduled to take place over a period of 30 minutes, and would air on WJHL-TV.
“Friday morning, I found out that had fell through,” Franklin said. “That’s how all the confusion happened.”
With assistance from members of the Washington County Republican Party, Franklin rescheduled the debate for Monday at the Visitors Center, and at first, eased the concerns of its potential participants.
“(Carriger) and Matthew both have expressed concerns about trick questions,” Franklin said. “I don’t think that’s going to happen.”
Despite Carriger’s withdrawal, the debate will proceed as scheduled Monday with Franklin and Hill as its two participants. Throughout the day Saturday, Hill said he had been supplied with more details about the event, and was looking forward to it.
“I’ve made it well known I’m willing to debate anytime, anywhere, any place,” Hill said. “As long as I know when and where it is, I’ll be there.”
As for public interest in the debate, Franklin said, during a Republican gathering Saturday afternoon, he had been approached by several who were excited at the prospect.
“People have been talking about the debate, and they’re pretty happy about it,” he said.
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