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For the first time in decades, the Keystone State’s gubernatorial candidates will not debate in front of Pennsylvania’s Chamber of Commerce after Republican state Sen. Doug Mastriano demanded that he and his opponent be able to pick moderators of their choice and field questions from both during the proposed October 3rd debate.
His opponent Democrat Attorney General Josh Shapiro, would not agree to these conditions. On Thursday night on the “Ingraham Angle” Mastriano accused him of hiding.
“I’ll run circles around him. The guy’s a coward,” Mastriano said. “He refuses to debate me.”
Mastriano proposed the new debate format after he took issue with the chamber’s choice of moderator, veteran Emmy award-winning ABC27 local TV journalist Dennis Owens, who moderated the Democrat and Republican debates in the primary, including an April debate Mastriano participated in.
The Mastriano campaign claimed Owens is a member of “legacy media” that has “relentlessly amplified Josh Shapiro’s false charges against the Senator.”
“Doug Mastriano will debate Attorney General Shapiro anytime, anyplace where Shapiro can’t hide behind the cover of his partners in the mainstream media,” a Mastriano campaign spokesman told Fox News. “We appreciate the PA chamber working with us to try to host a gubernatorial debate.”
Pennsylvania’s Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Luke Bernstein told Fox News he believed Mr. Owens to be “very fair” and someone respected by both sides. The chamber, which has overwhelmingly endorsed Republican candidates in recent state positions, has a long-standing tradition of setting its own debate terms.
“There had to be mutual agreement by both candidates to change any of our terms,” Bernstein said, and in the gubernatorial race, “There was no agreement.”
Bernstein said the forum is an opportunity for candidates to talk to business leaders that represent more than half of Pennsylvania’s private workers at a time when the economy and inflation is top of mind for voters.
“This would largely be on economic issues, inflation, rising gas prices, and energy production,” Bernstein said. “I think debates are very important and are a very important part of democracy.”
The October 3rd debate will now be a fireside…