Hatch again accused of ducking debates
Politics • Senator's campaign says there's still time for face to face.
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It's coming from a different opponent, but Sen. Orrin Hatch is again under attack for dodging debates.

Democrat Scott Howell complains Hatch won't schedule debates and is avoiding one on Tuesday, when Howell will face third-party candidates. Ducking debates was the issue that gained the most press attention in Hatch's GOP primary against Dan Liljenquist — which Hatch won with 66 percent of the vote.

Howell said in a news release that Hatch "may feel like he's above being responsible to the people of Utah, that he doesn't have to answer to them. But we feel differently."

The Democrat said it appears to be a conscious campaign strategy on the part of Hatch.

"I believe he thinks the best way to keep his job is to not let people see they have a choice. I think he knows people will see that I'm the candidate that represents Utah the best," Howell said.

Dave Hansen, Hatch's campaign manager, said it's premature to criticize the incumbent for not debating.

"It's only August, and there's plenty of time for debates before this election," Hansen said. He added that some debates likely will be scheduled after this month — as Congress is in recess — but he is unsure how many. "It depends on the Senate schedule."

Liljenquist complained repeatedly that Hatch, who is seeking a seventh term, would agree to only one debate — on the radio without a live audience. Hatch said then that his Senate schedule would not allow more, even though TV stations offered to tape a debate in Washington. Liljenquist held a debate in absentia with Hatch, but did not use a cardboard cutout of him as once planned.

"Someone suggested using a cardboard cutout [of Hatch] on Tuesday, but I don't think it's going to happen," said Emily Hollingshead, campaign manager for Howell.

Hansen said Hatch is skipping Tuesday's debate because of prior campaign commitments in Cache and Rich counties. He also said it was suspicious that K-Talk Radio AM630, sponsor of the debate, was making arrangements through Shaun McCausland, the Constitution Party Senate nominee.

"No wonder he wanted four, two-hour debates," Hansen said. "That's not going to happen."

Nolayan Herdegen, who is now handling the debate for K-Talk, said it did use McCausland originally "so that we did not have to call every single candidate." He said McCausland had volunteered to work with other candidates to try to schedule the event.

Herdegen said that besides Howell and McCausland, Utah Justice Party nominee Daniel Geery and unaffiliated candidate Bill Barron have also agreed to appear at the debate.

It is scheduled for 5-7 p.m. Tuesday at the Bountiful City Council Chambers — the public is invited — and will air live on K-Talk Radio AM630. —

U.S. Senate race debate

When and where • 5-7 p.m. Tuesday, Bountiful City Council Chambers, 790 S. 100 East. Airing live on K-Talk Radio AM630.

Participating • Democrat Scott Howell, Constitution Party nominee Shaun McCausland, Utah Justice Party nominee Daniel Geery and unaffiliated candidate Bill Barron.

Skipping • GOP Sen. Orrin Hatch.