What’s Todd Rokita afraid of?

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of talking with Purdue professor and 4th District candidate David Sanders. He was out greeting voters at the Monroe County Fair after spending the day going door to door – something he’s done in all 12 of the counties in the 4th. Sanders was also encouraging the people of Monroe County to come and see the debate between the Congressional candidates in Ellettsville on August 10. But, he warned voters, GOP nominee Todd Rokita might not show up.

As Masson noted on his blog the other day, Rokita hasn’t responded to the debate invitations – either the one planned for Ellettsville on August 10 or the one in Greenwood on August 24.

David Sanders initially issued the debate challenge by sending letters to Todd Rokita and Libertarian candidate John Duncan on June 7th. Duncan quickly agreed, but more than 50 days later, Rokita is still noncommittal. While seeming to admit that his candidate has no campaign conflicts on those dates, his campaign spokesperson, Mike Sullivan, says Rokita wants someone else to arrange the debates. Sullivan also dismissed Sanders’ idea of having more debates:

“I don’t even think the (U.S.) Senate or statewide races do nine or 10 debates,” Sullivan said. “That seems like an excessive number for a congressional race.”

Sanders told me that he spoke to Rokita early in the year, and Rokita said that as the chief election officer for the state, he understood the importance of & need for debates.  But  Rokita’s dissembling on the actual details of debates shows that he’s simply not committed to the ideals he claims on his website – such as being “committed to ensuring an open, collaborative approach to government” and choosing “principle over politics”.

UPDATE: Indiana Public Media reports that Rokita will, in fact, skip the Ellettsville debate on August 10.