Jamie McLeod-Skinner literally stopped traffic to get a debate with Rep. Greg Walden.
As documented on a video posted to McLeod-Skinner’s campaign Facebook page, the Terrebonne Democrat strode up to the cream-colored convertible Walden was riding in during the Chief Joseph Days Parade in Joseph Saturday and shook his hand.
“I would like to challenge you to at least three debates within the district,” she said. “I will debate you in every single county if you like.”
McLeod-Skinner continued by telling the 10-term incumbent from Hood River that she would at least like him to debate her three times, one time each in Eastern Oregon, Central Oregon and Southern Oregon.
Walden seemed to answer to affirmatively.
“I look forward to debating you,” he said. “We’ll figure out a schedule that works.”
Then the parade had to move on.
Since winning the Democratic nomination in May, McLeod-Skinner said in an interview Monday that she and Walden have received numerous invitations from various organizations willing to sponsor a debate. Nichole van Eikeren, McLeod-Skinner’s campaign manager, said some of those organizations include Central Oregon Community College, the American Association of University Women and the Grants Pass Daily Courier.
McLeod-Skinner said her campaign accepted these invitations, but they didn’t receive word about Walden agreeing to the debate.
With both candidates in Joseph for the parade, McLeod-Skinner said “it seemed like a good time to invite him face-to-face.”
McLeod-Skinner said she would like to debate Walden in all 20 counties of District 2 to give as many voters a chance to see the candidates as possible.
Regardless of the number of debates, McLeod-Skinner said she would like to see them formatted as either a moderated debate with a neutral moderator or a town hall-style debate where members of the audience can ask questions.
If the two parties can secure a debate in Eastern Oregon, McLeod-Skinner suggested Eastern Oregon University as an ideal sponsor.
McLeod-Skinner said she expects Walden to honor his word and schedule some debates, noting that the U.S. House of Representatives was currently in recess and he was making time for a fundraiser in Wilsonville Monday night, which The Oregonian reported to include Speaker of the House Paul Ryan.
Neither Walden’s campaign or legislative office returned requests for comment.
While Eastern Oregon could play a role in the District 2 debate schedule, it doesn’t appear a likely setting for the race between Gov. Kate Brown and her Republican challenger, state Rep. Knute Buehler of Bend.
Christian Gaston, Brown’s campaign spokesman, wrote in an email that the three hosts will be Children First, and television stations KOBI and KGW.
Although the final details are still being determined, KGW and Children First are in Portland while KOBI is in Medford.
“I think it’s important to note that television debates are closed events and are not open to the public, so the physical location doesn’t matter as much as the statewide reach of the event online and on broadcast,” he wrote. “We will work with all three hosts to make sure that they are open to rebroadcast with partners statewide and that the event is available online for everyone in the state to watch.”
Monica Wroblewski, Buehler’s campaign communications director, said the campaign continues to request a 10-debate schedule, two debates for each congressional district.
If Brown were to agree to such a schedule, Wroblewski said a location in Eastern Oregon would be included.
Both Brown and Buehler’s campaigns have confirmed that they’ll be making future appearances in Eastern Oregon as a part of the campaign trail, but it likely won’t be in a debate setting.
The Westward Ho! Parade during the Pendleton Round-Up is a standard stop for office holders and political challengers alike, and both gubernatorial candidates plan to participate.
McLeod-Skinner also plans to attend, and although Walden’s campaign didn’t return a request for comment, the congressman has been a regular presence at the non-motorized parade.