Minnesota’s 2nd District Congressional candidates will not debate as expected next week in front of a local business group.
The Dakota County Regional Chamber of Commerce announced its cancellation of the event, which had been scheduled for Monday, Oct. 10, in Apple Valley, "due to (Democrat) Angie Craig's decision not to participate."
The debate was billed as an opportunity to hear from Craig, Republican Jason Lewis and Independence Party candidate Paula Overby.
The closely watched race will fill the seat of retiring Republican U.S. Rep. John Kline.
Chamber president Vicki Stute said she received late notification from Craig’s campaign that Monday was not going to work, but she did not get a reason.
"We were extremely disappointed," Stute said.
Stute said not having a chance for the public to ask the candidates where they stand on business issues and other topics is a disservice to people in the district.
“The candidates do not have voting records to be able to use as a historical snapshot of what they might do if elected and head off to Washington, DC,” she said.
Stute said she’s open to trying to find a date that would work for Craig but is not optimistic, given the rapidly approaching election.
Mychal Vlatkovich, a spokesman for Craig, said the campaign had never agreed to the Dakota County chamber debate. He said Craig had a conflict with the date.
"It wasn't like we pulled out or anything like that," Vlatkovich said. "We went with the ones that are going to reach the widest audience and help inform the most voters."
Vlatkovich stressed that Craig has agreed to participate in three debates, two on TV and one on radio. The list is TPT Almanac on Oct. 14, KSTP TV on Oct. 30 and Minnesota Public Radio News on a date still to be determined.
Jack Dwyer, campaign manager for Jason Lewis, criticized Craig for avoiding debates in front of live audiences.
“It’s unfortunate that Angie doesn’t seem to want to talk to the voters in any kind of public setting or public forum,” Dwyer said.