Democrats implore Reichert to debate

Washington State Democrats are blasting 8th District Republican Congressman Dave Reichert for what they contend is his repeated ducking of public appearances and debates requested by his Democratic challenger, Suzan DelBene.

The state Democratic party recently issued a news release that contends that while the three-term incumbent has so far dismissed DelBene’s request for four debates by citing Reichert’s busy schedule, he’s had time to participate in a number of local private events. They include several private fundraisers with prominent Republicans, including one held Monday night in Seattle featuring former New York City Mayor-turned-2008 GOP presidential hopeful Rudy Guiliani.

Reichert’s camp has called the charges ridiculous.

“Congressman Reichert has not been absent from public view, he has been at countless public events and is always accessible to the people he represents,” campaign spokesman Darren Littell said in an e-mail Tuesday. “It is a fact that he doesn’t have the ability to campaign full-time like his opponent, because he is busy working to create jobs for the people of Washington’s 8th. Just yesterday morning he was at a Boeing rally, where people from the 8th work, in front of hundreds of people talking about creating jobs.”

State Democrats’ press releases echo the DelBene camp’s repeated claims throughout the past several weeks – that Reichert is avoiding public appearances where voters and the media have an opportunity to question him. At the same time, DelBene claims, Reichert has been participating only in largely private events of his choosing.

“He obviously has time to go out and do something in his district, but it’s just not getting out in public to talk to the people,” Del-Bene campaign spokesman Scott Whiteaker said.

In the race for the Congressional seat that represents parts of east King and Pierce counties, a recent KingTV/SurveyUSA poll found that the former King County sheriff turned congressman from Auburn was holding a double-digit percentage point lead over DelBene, a high-tech entrepreneur and first-time candidate from Medina.

DelBene requested four debates with Reichert, asking they be held before ballots go out the week of Oct. 11, Whiteaker said. The challenger’s campaign received only a brief e-mail reply from Reichert’s campaign, that, in part, said: “Congress is scheduled to be in session until October 8th, so at this time the Congressman’s schedule is uncertain.”

“We’re not ruling out the debates,” Littell said Tuesday. “We’re continuing to work to arrange things to accommodate different requests.”