Part of the Bay Area News Group

‘Mom, he won’t debate me!’

By Lisa Vorderbrueggen
Wednesday, August 6th, 2008 at 5:58 pm in 2008 November election, 2008 presidential election, 2008 presidential primary, Congress, congressional district 11.

GOP congressional candidate Dean Andal of Stockton (pictured on left) continues to press Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton, for face-to-face debates.

Andal’s campaign sent out a letter this afternoon titled “Local Leaders for Open Debate” signed by esteemed officials — and Republicans — including Contra Costa County Sheriff Warren Rupf, Walnut Creek Councilwoman Sue Rainey, Danville Councilwoman Karen Stepper and retired Pleasanton police chief Bill Eastman.

“This is just another slap in the face to voters,” Rupf was quoted saying in the press release. “First, Mr. McNerney refused to debate Dean Andal in an open forum …”

Sheriff Rupf is an admirable elected official (who carries a gun, so I try to be really nice to him) but this is pure politics, folks.

There’s no evidence that McNerney has turned down any specific requests to debate.

Instead, Andal’s camp says McNerney didn’t answer in kind the challenger’s letter calling for a series of debates. Gee, how rude of McNerney not to reply to a letter that was sent out to the media. Maybe McNerney should have sent candy and flowers, too.

But it is true that incumbents often put off debates until late in the campaign and keep them to a minimum. It denies the challenger the free media coverage and reduces risks of a misstatement by the incumbent. It also denies voters the time and opportunity to hear from both the candidates face-to-face.

McNerney’s campaign advisers may well be telling him to avoid early debates. It’s entirely possible.

But in fact, there have been no debates to skirt.

Andal can call for all the debates he wants but who will hold them? Does Andal expect McNerney to to put them on? Candidates don’t typically host these events and their opponents would view them as suspect anyway.

Nonpartisan civic groups such as chambers of commerce or the League of Women Voters usually negotiate successful candidate debates and issue invitations to appear. But most of these groups hold their events in the fall after people return from their vacations and the public begins to focus more closely on the November election.

As you would expect, McNerney spokesman Andy Stone said the congressman is eager to debate Andal and the campaign staff has been working with at least one San Joaquin organization and there will be others.

If McNerney is truly avoiding Andal, it will become evident soon enough.

As we do every election, the Times and the League of Women Voters (with its sponsors) plans to host a televised debate sometime in late September in this highly watched race among others in the East Bay. We usually hold the debates prior to the start of voting by mail, which starts Oct. 6 for the November general election.

Believe me, if McNerney or Andal puts up a fuss over attendance at this debate or any legitimate debate in the district, I’ll make sure you know about it.

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  • RR

    Why is a sitting member of Congress under any obligation to debate an opponent? Andal would put his time to better use listening to what concerns the voters and answering them. The member’s record is open to public scrutiny and Andal is free to comment on it.

  • RR

    Why is a sitting member of Congress under any obligation to debate an opponent? Andal would put his time to better use listening to what concerns the voters and answering them. The member’s record is open to public scrutiny and Andal is free to comment on it.

  • Renegade GOP

    McNerney won’t debate!! Shocking!! These two are so far apart that what ever one is for the other is against. Andal is running an upscale version of the Charles Ball campaign. Just don’t put yourself deep into dept Deanie!! Because you are going to lose.

  • Renegade GOP

    McNerney won’t debate!! Shocking!! These two are so far apart that what ever one is for the other is against. Andal is running an upscale version of the Charles Ball campaign. Just don’t put yourself deep into dept Deanie!! Because you are going to lose.

  • http://CCTimes hpocriticalyes?

    It is always suspect when someone who is not an incumbent requests debates before the usual time of october. As anyone who knows, of which there are several on the letter, debates for elected officials or for those who are running for an elected office are as Lisa has so eloquently recited sponsored by The CC Times, League of Women, AAUW or Chambers. I am surprised that the Sheriff or Sue Rainey wouldn’t remember this fact since they have both participated in these debates. Apparently Mr. Andal isn’t watching the presidential candidate debates of which none were sponsored by Clinton, Obama or McCain.
    If you don’t know how to play with the big dogs stay on the porch!

  • http://CCTimes hpocriticalyes?

    It is always suspect when someone who is not an incumbent requests debates before the usual time of october. As anyone who knows, of which there are several on the letter, debates for elected officials or for those who are running for an elected office are as Lisa has so eloquently recited sponsored by The CC Times, League of Women, AAUW or Chambers. I am surprised that the Sheriff or Sue Rainey wouldn’t remember this fact since they have both participated in these debates. Apparently Mr. Andal isn’t watching the presidential candidate debates of which none were sponsored by Clinton, Obama or McCain.
    If you don’t know how to play with the big dogs stay on the porch!

  • Hilltopper

    This is really childish on Andal’s part.

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  • Hilltopper

    This is really childish on Andal’s part.

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  • http://ca.11-blogspot.com Brian Mundy

    Quick, ask the good Sheriff to call 911 and dispatch a Waaahmbulance.

    BTW I couldn’t reach the link to the letter for some reason. So, I headed over to Andal’s website for the first time. His website portrays Andal as a modern day Perry Mason, studiously reading a law book with a pile of thick law books on deck. WAY too funny since he isn’t a lawyer – he just plays one on the internets. Huhlarious.

  • http://ca.11-blogspot.com Brian Mundy

    Quick, ask the good Sheriff to call 911 and dispatch a Waaahmbulance.

    BTW I couldn’t reach the link to the letter for some reason. So, I headed over to Andal’s website for the first time. His website portrays Andal as a modern day Perry Mason, studiously reading a law book with a pile of thick law books on deck. WAY too funny since he isn’t a lawyer – he just plays one on the internets. Huhlarious.

  • Walter, Livermore

    Dean Andal shouldn’t be looked down upon for wanting to debate McNearney on the issues. What’s wrong with that? I’d like to see more debating between all candidates campaigning for elected-offices, the people deserve it. I don’t believe that anyone would expect the candidates, Incumbent or not, to foot the costs for the debate though. Groups, organizations and even both party’s County Central Committees have the capability to host good debates… and usually do.I think that Dean Andal should be ,at least, respected for the willingness to confront McNearney in an open-debate and in front of the voters. Sometimes it’s nice to look candidates in the eye and see if they really mean what they are saying.I would understand if McNearney refused to debate Dean Andal though. That advice more than likely would come from his campaign advisors, who know McNearney not to be the best public-speaker.
    I also thought McNearney seemed somewhat weak on a few of the issues that he and I pesonally discussed at one of his Congress at Your Corner Meetings. Dean Andal would be less forgiving with McNearney than I was and Dean seems to be more of a Constitutional candidate than McNearney, but that’s just my personal opinion.
    Dean would get my vote, but that’s because the 2nd Amendment and solving the illegal-immigration problem in this country is very important to me!

  • Walter, Livermore

    Dean Andal shouldn’t be looked down upon for wanting to debate McNearney on the issues. What’s wrong with that? I’d like to see more debating between all candidates campaigning for elected-offices, the people deserve it. I don’t believe that anyone would expect the candidates, Incumbent or not, to foot the costs for the debate though. Groups, organizations and even both party’s County Central Committees have the capability to host good debates… and usually do.I think that Dean Andal should be ,at least, respected for the willingness to confront McNearney in an open-debate and in front of the voters. Sometimes it’s nice to look candidates in the eye and see if they really mean what they are saying.I would understand if McNearney refused to debate Dean Andal though. That advice more than likely would come from his campaign advisors, who know McNearney not to be the best public-speaker.
    I also thought McNearney seemed somewhat weak on a few of the issues that he and I pesonally discussed at one of his Congress at Your Corner Meetings. Dean Andal would be less forgiving with McNearney than I was and Dean seems to be more of a Constitutional candidate than McNearney, but that’s just my personal opinion.
    Dean would get my vote, but that’s because the 2nd Amendment and solving the illegal-immigration problem in this country is very important to me!

  • Walter, Livermore

    Brian Mundy,

    Dean Andal may not be a lawyer, but I would hope that he is, at least, familiar with the law and law books in general.

    For a candidate running for Congress to try to pose as a lawyer seems like a step down to me.

    Congressmen are law-makers and quite often pick-up law books from time to time.

    At least he reads the laws for himself, as oppose to taking someone else’s word for it! Accountability is always good in politics.

  • Walter, Livermore

    Brian Mundy,

    Dean Andal may not be a lawyer, but I would hope that he is, at least, familiar with the law and law books in general.

    For a candidate running for Congress to try to pose as a lawyer seems like a step down to me.

    Congressmen are law-makers and quite often pick-up law books from time to time.

    At least he reads the laws for himself, as oppose to taking someone else’s word for it! Accountability is always good in politics.

  • sanramondad

    McNerney will avoid debates for two reasons: 1) He is not very articulate. 2) He is corrupt because he took and kept most of a campaign contribution from a San Diego attorney who was convicted of a felony.

  • Hilltopper

    To Sanramonda:

    The second “point” of your comment makes no sense. (1) what are you talking about; (2) how does this equate with “corruption”; (3) how can this possibly have anything to do with debates; and (4) even if this constitutes “corruption,” how can it even come close to Andal’s corruption with PCCP Mountain House and developer Gerry Kamilos?

    It may be true that McNerney is not a polished debater like Andal, but that is because he is an environmental engineer, not a politician and lobbyist, like Andal.

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