15th District Senate Candidate Blakeslee accepts Laird debate challenge...or does he?
Thursday, July 15, 2010
Assemblyman Sam Blakeslee (R-San Luis Obispo), who faces off against Democrat John Laird and two minor party candidates in the special state senate election August 17, has accepted two invitations to debate: August 5 in Silicon Valley and August 6 in Southern San Luis Obispo County.
Laird has challenged Blakeslee to debate in each of the five counties in the district: Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Monterey, San Luis Obispo, and Santa Barbara.
Blakeslee has not yet scheduled debates in Santa Cruz or Monterey counties, says spokesman Kevin Spillane.
"We're looking for neutral balanced forums," Spillane says.
But Laird spokesman Bill Maxfield says the August 6 meeting is anything but. Set to take place in Arroyo Grande, it's sponsored by the Coalition of Labor Agriculture and Business whose executive director Andy Caldwell writes in the July 6 California Chronicle blog, "I have great respect for Sam Blakeslee. John Laird on the other hand, scares me to death."
What's more, Maxfield says, neither appearance is a real debate. The Silicon Valley meeting,which Laird has also agreed to attend, is only open to members of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, and Maxfield stresses the Arroyo Grande group is hardly neutral. Both meetings will be open to the press, Spillane says.
Meanwhile, Blakeslee will not attend a July 26 televised debate on his home turf in San Luis Obispo. The forum is organized by the League of Women Voters and co-sponsored by the San Luis Obispo Tribune and the San Luis Obispo County Office of Education among other agencies. Spillane says the candidate has a scheduling conflict, but refused to explain the problem.
No word yet on whether Blakeslee will appear in two additional debates: July 22 in San Luis Obispo to be broadcast on KCBX Radio, and a July 27, 28 or 30 debate in Santa Cruz that would air on KUSP. Laird says he'll participate.