Third District Rep. Jim Banks (R-Columbia City) and his Democratic challenger Courtney Tritch, of Fort Wayne, have scheduled a debate, four days before the Nov. 6 midterm election.
So far this is the only debate that has been scheduled between a congressional candidate and an incumbent in Indiana.
According to professor Mike Wolf, chair of the Purdue University-Fort Wayne Department of Political Science, it’s not unusual for incumbents to be reluctant.
“Midterm election years really are not favorable to the president’s party and their incumbents in congress,” Wolf said. “An incumbent republican might not want to debate in a year when much of the questions and topics may be critical of the president and the president’s party.”
But Wolf also said scheduling a debate this late in the campaign can be a risky move.
“That’s pretty close to the election that would not give someone much time to recover should they take a left turn instead of getting their message out the way they want it,” he said.
Debate scheduling has been one of the most debated topics in the third district race.
Back in August, the Tritch pushed Banks to agree to multiple debates over the course of this campaign season.
The Banks campaign issued a statement late Friday afternoon:
“Never before in the history of Indiana’s third district has there been a greater contrast than in this race for Congress between conservative Congressman Jim Banks and pro-abortion liberal activist Courtney Tritch. Republican Congressman Banks looks forward to debating Democrat candidate Tritch because northeast Indiana voters deserve to know that their values will be represented in Congress, not the values of Bernie Sanders, Nancy Pelosi and the left wing of the Democrat party.”
Tritch’s campaign issued a statement earlier in the day:
"We want to thank WANE-TV for their professionalism and transparency in these debate negotiations," said David Myles, Tritch's campaign manager. “Over the last several months, thousands of voters from across northeast Indiana have demanded debates, and we are happy to deliver. While it is disappointing that Rep. Banks refuses to face voters in a live audience, as has been the case for all WANE debates for over a decade, we believed it was more important to get this on the calendar now, then to engage in political games. We look forward to discussing the issues that voters care about most such as affordable healthcare, strong public schools, and high-wage jobs."
The debate will be held on Friday, Nov. 2 from 7 to 8 p.m. on WANE-TV.