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Home arrow Opinion arrow Editorials arrow Let’s set a debate

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Let’s set a debate

Congressman Greg Walden, the Republican who has represented Eastern Oregon for almost a dozen years, doesn’t need to debate his Democratic challenger, Joyce Segers of Ashland, to ensure his re-election.

But Walden should do it anyway.

He has an obligation to his constituents, a group that includes thousands of Democrats who likely didn’t vote for Walden in any of his six electoral victories dating to 1998.

Public debates are a vital part of our political system.

Even in the most scripted debate, where the candidates approve the topics in advance and the sequence of response and rebuttal is strictly controlled, voters are apt to learn things about the candidates that they can’t from reading the heavily massaged propaganda of a campaign.

Or, worse still, from watching TV ads.

Segers has proposed a series of five debates: Sept. 17 in Madras, Sept. 20 in Milton-Freewater, Oct. 1 in Hood River, Oct. 16 in Ashland and Oct. 20 in Bend.

That’s an ambitious schedule. And it’s one we don’t expect Walden to agree to as is.

However, we’re disappointed by the response to Segers’ proposal from Walden’s spokesman, Andrew Whelan: “Greg has a very busy calendar going from here through November. Greg welcomes a vigorous campaign, and he’s open to seeing how the calendars line up down the road.”

Well, Segers already has her calendar set: her spokesman said the candidate intends to visit those five cities, on those five days, regardless of whether Walden’s around to debate.

Surely Walden can wedge at least one debate into his itinerary before the ballots are mailed in mid-October.

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