Candidate Heidi St. John believes focus should be on upcoming election and not on accepting candidate Joe Kent’s offer to debate this month
A pair of Republican challengers to incumbent Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler in Washington’s 3rd Congressional District don’t agree on the timing or urgency to debate at this time.
Byron Sanford, the campaign manager for Yacolt resident Joe Kent, sent out a news release Monday (Oct. 11) announcing candidate Heidi St. John had agreed to a debate with Kent.
“We are grateful that Heidi St. John’s campaign has accepted our offer of a debate,’’ Sanford said in the statement. “While our candidate has appeared side by side on many occasions with our challenger, our frequent offers to debate over many months as well as an invitation to a debate from the Chairman of Clark County GOP, has not been met with an affirmative response until now.’’
Two days later, St. John’s campaign issued a statement refuting Sanford’s claim. The statement indicated that St. John is looking forward to debating other Republicans in the race, but discussing such an idea before the November 2021 election is just “silly.”
Kent’s proposal reportedly was for a radio debate held in late October, 10 months before the August 2022 primary election. The statement from St. John’s campaign explained that the proposed debate would have come “at a time when local school board and municipal candidates are struggling to generate turnout.’’
“Right now our focus needs to be on turning out every single conservative over the next three weeks to counter the millions George Soros and the rest of the radical left elite will be pumping into GOTV in an effort to steal these elections,” St. John said. “Our nation faces a real threat from the Communist Left and it’s not just from Biden and Congress, but also from woke progressives on a local level who want to destroy our families, our neighborhoods, our churches, and our freedom. Folks on the local level fighting these battles need our support now more than ever. Let’s wait until November 2021 is over before scheduling 2022 debates and give these candidates the help they need to win and fight back.’’
Sanford’s statement indicated that long-time conservative radio talk show host Lars Larson would have hosted the proposed debate.
“He is a local broadcast legend known for fairness and trustworthiness,’’ Sanford said. “His show dominates the ratings in Washington’s Third Congressional District and offers a greater audience than any other local platform.’’
As for the timing of a debate between candidates in the 3rd Congressional District race, Sanford offered a reason for the urgency to hold an event sooner rather than later.
“There is no Republican Primary in Washington State,’’ Stanford said. “This debate is about determining the best candidate to go forward against Jaime Herrera Beutler in the first round of voting. More than one anti-Establishment candidate only spoils the race in favor of the incumbent.’’
St. John’s campaign said that they never had to decline an offer of a debate because Kent’s campaign never actually made one.
“The Kent Campaign has a serious problem with self aggrandizement,” St. John Campaign Manager Lisa D’Andrea told Clark County Today. “We have never been asked by his campaign nor any other group including the Clark County Republican Party to debate. The county chairman Joel Mattila even confirmed that to me.
“People will soon begin to understand there is more to Mr. Kent than they realize and he will do anything to make sure he is the only Republican challenger to the incumbent including lie in his press releases,” D’Andrea added. “He and his team have a very difficult relationship with the truth.”