Maine Senate President Kevin Raye wants to debate U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud in Aroostook County on Oct. 17, but Michaud says no, the 2nd Congressional District challenger said Monday.
The Republican from Perry criticized Michaud’s refusal, saying it contradicts statements the East Millinocket Democrat made during his party’s state convention in June. Michaud promised to defend his record “at any time, anywhere and any place.”
“This invitation was the only opportunity for the people of Aroostook County to see and hear a televised debate between Congressman Michaud and me on issues of particular importance to residents of The County,” Raye said in a statement issued Monday. “With jobs, small business and agriculture issues at the forefront of so many people’s minds in northern Maine, I hope that Congressman Michaud will reconsider and accept the invitation.”
Michaud’s promise to defend his record is available on YouTube.
Michaud balked at the Aroostook County faceoff because it would be the fifth debate or candidates forum of the campaign, said his spokesman, Dan Cashman. Two of the four would be available on television in The County, with the rest available there directly via the Internet, or indirectly through news media coverage, Cashman said.
“There are plenty of opportunities to discuss and exchange ideas,” Cashman said Monday. “The fact of the matter is that four debates is more than was available for the last two elections. Four debates is an aggressive schedule, especially when you think of the congressman’s schedule and the duties he has to perform in Washington.”
The debate on WAGM-TV is unique, Raye spokesman Robert Caverly said, because it would have focused largely upon Aroostook County issues, such as agriculture and small business, and the problems they encounter.
Michaud also has congressional and campaign stops scheduled for The County in the remaining weeks of the campaign. He will make congressional visits on Thursday and Friday, possibly with some campaigning mixed in, Cashman said.
Michaud’s refusal to debate in Aroostook County comes just days after Raye received a major boost as one of just four House challengers in the nation to win the endorsement of the Business and Industry Political Action Committee, or BIPAC, according to the Raye campaign. Raye is also endorsed by the National Federation of Business, which has more than 3,500 Maine members, as well as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
Michaud’s camp has decried NFIB as a right-leaning political group more interested in rallying Republican support than fairly assessing Democrats.
Michaud increased the debate load to four because he recognizes their importance to the electorate, Cashman said.
Recent poll results show Raye trailing Michaud by almost 20 points in the 2nd District.