There may have been whether Sen. Alberta Darling (R-River Hills) and Rep. Sandy Pasch (D-Whitefish Bay) would meet face-to-face and debate before the Aug. 9 recall election in Wisconsin 8th Senate District.
But those doubts appear to have been laid to rest.
Both Darling and Pasch are preparing to go toe-to-toe in two forums and appear separately at two Milwaukee Press Club luncheons over the next three weeks.
The Pasch campaign has accused Darling of being afraid to debate, and has criticized her for turning down numerous invitations to do so.
Coming up on Sunday, Pasch and Darling will debate at 9 a.m. on "UPFRONT" with WISN-TV’s Mike Gousha. The two candidates will actually be in the studio Saturday to film the debate.
On Aug. 1 and Aug. 2 Pasch and Darling will stop by the Milwaukee Press Club on separate days, with Pasch visiting Aug. 1. Both will be the featured newsmakers at the luncheon, and will field questions from reporters and the audience.
On Aug. 3, both candidates will attend an invitation-only forum sponsored by the at the Radisson Hotel. Although there are two face-to-face meetings now scheduled, Pasch’s campaign says that’s not enough.
“We’ve been trying to get this done and get the two of them together for weeks now,” said Pasch campaign manager Dave Kreisman. “We asked Senator Darling for at least three debates and so far we might have two. I don’t know what she is so afraid of. She’s had 20 years to get her name out there to her constituents and tell them where she stands. I’m kind of confused.”
For example, . Pasch has agreed to participate, but Darling has not.
Darling campaign manager Andrew Davis said the decision to decline invitations to debate is based on the campaign's strategy and not fear. Davis said Darling’s focus in the next few weeks will be to reach out to her constituents in person.
“If we were to have accepted every single debate invitation, that’s all we would have been doing over the next few weeks,” Davis said. “It’s customary for the challenger to want to commit to more debates. But we feel our time is better spent meeting with constituents.”
Davis said the differences between the two candidates are well known. Additionally, Davis said the state budget, which has become the key issue in the election, was a approved through an open public process. Davis said Darling’s position on issues surrounding the budget is clear.
“People know the all the tough decisions that were made. We’re not ducking down because we are afraid to debate Sandy,” Davis said. “The whole time we knew they would go head-to-head at some point before the election.”
Kreisman said Pasch is ready to face Darling any time.
“We are excited for the opportunity to show a clear contrast between Pasch and Darling,” he said. “Sandy has a record that she is proud of. “She’s ready. She has been ready from day one.”