Kansas House of Representatives 117th District Republican candidate John Ewy declined an invitation to attend a debate in Kinsley on Oct. 22. The debate, which was to be co-hosted by The Dodge City Daily Globe and The Kiowa County Signal, is the second debate Ewy has declined in the past few weeks.
Ewy and Democratic challenger Dennis McKinney were both invited to attend the one-on-one debate that was to be held at the Edwards County Fair Building on the evening of Oct. 22.
Both candidates were contacted last week with information about the debate, which would have been a question and answer format similar to the Kiowa County Primary debate hosted by The Signal in July.
McKinney agreed to attend the debate on Thursday afternoon.
“I will bend over backwards to attend them because they are good for voters,” said McKinney.
Ewy adviser and former two-term state senator from Hanston Larry Salmans responded to the request on Friday.
Salmans said he would discuss the debate with Ewy on Saturday, but that Ewy would not attend the debate unless he was allowed to see the questions beforehand.
In a phone call on Monday morning Salmans said Ewy was declining the invitation because it was not an official party sanctioned event and because he did not have the time.
“He will be in Kinsley on the Oct. 21 at a fundraiser so he feels like that is enough,” said Salmans. “At this time he is so scheduled up, this is what he wanted to do. This is not going through the Republican Party, this is a newspaper and we’re pretty much trying to stay with the county chairs within the party. They didn’t know anything about this, so that is kind of a red flag. He is going into that area and he is concerned about that whole area. He just doesn’t necessarily want to be at the same time and place as his opponent.”
Salmans also declined an opportunity to suggest other dates that might be more compatible with Ewy schedule.
“I don’t think that’s going to be necessary,” said Salmans. “ He thinks that’s enough for Edwards County and that area down there.”
Ewy also declined a previous invitation by Pawnee County Republican Committeeman Kim Barnes to debate McKinney in Larned.
Barnes, a city council member and member of the local economic development board has a long pedigree of hosting debates in Pawnee County.
Barnes has organized forums and debates for national and local races including a televised 1994 gubernatorial debate between Jim Slattery and Bill Graves.
Page 2 of 2 - Barnes, in conjunction with the Larned Tiller and Toiler, had scheduled the debate during the third week in October and contacted both candidates mid-September.
“I contacted both candidates,” said Barnes. “Mr. McKinney did agree to participate and gave several days that were open to him. I did contact Mr. Ewy and he called me back, but I believe at this time he has declined to participate. I offered him several different dates and he said he would get back with me, but I haven’t heard back from him at all.”
Barnes said he is still holding a location, but hasn’t had any response from Ewy.
“It’s our civic duty to allow the candidates the opportunity to meet the public and for the public to meet them and that is the reason we wanted to do this,” added Barnes.
Both candidates attended county fairs before the primary, but have not officially debated.
The Dodge City Area Young Professionals has scheduled a forum on October 11 at Dodge City Community College, although Ewy and McKinney will be two of a total of ten candidates expected to attend.
“I think [forums] are good for the voters I would like to attend and I wish John would too,” said McKinney. “A forum allows us to discuss in more than a sound bite. We desperately need more of this given the complex issues we face.”
The 2013 legislative session is expected to address a wide variety of key issues including healthcare, nutrition, education and agriculture.
“I’ve been knocking on doors and I guess debates or forum, whatever you would like to call them are very important,” said Ewy on Tuesday evening. “But I felt like, after talking to my campaign people, that my time was better spent knocking on doors and talking to people.”