By Maya Shimizu Harris
Via- Wyoming News Exchange
CASPER — Candidates for Wyoming’s lone U.S. House seat denounced Trump-backed Republican nominee Harriet Hageman’s absence on Thursday from a debate in Riverton, calling the move “a disservice to Wyoming.”
“I say this as gracefully as I can, but I believe that, not only is it a disservice to Wyoming, but it’s a (cowardly) move,” Democratic nominee Lynnette Grey Bull said. “Wyoming doesn’t need a coward. Wyoming needs a leader, Wyoming needs a voice, Wyoming needs people who are able to stand up to anybody and anyone.”
WyomingPBS, which hosted the U.S. House debate, confirmed with the Wyoming Tribune Eagle in September that it had offered two potential dates in October for Hageman to participate in a debate.
Hageman initially said she had a scheduling conflict. But when given the alternative date, she said she wouldn’t participate at all.
“Since announcing her candidacy, Harriet Hageman has traveled over 40,000 miles across Wyoming, held more than 200 events and spoken with thousands of voters,” Hageman’s campaign responded in a statement. “This is a much more effective way of communicating with Wyomingites, and it’s how she will continue,” the statement said. “We thank you for your invitation, but respectfully decline.”
The moderators’ first question for the candidates asked — in light of Hageman’s absence — what they considered to be an appropriate excuse for missing the event.
“I think that it is very unfortunate that the other candidate is not here,” Constitution Party candidate Marissa Joy Selvig said. “The voters of Wyoming deserve to hear from all of their candidates.”
Selvig listed “a death in the family” or “a health issue” as reasonable excuses for not participating in the debate.
“But I don’t think that there’s any other reason other than a health issue or a family emergency to not participate in a debate, because informed voters make better choices,” she continued. “As I said previously, I think it is imperative that the voters of Wyoming hear from every candidate that they have to choose from.”
In August, Hageman beat out incumbent Rep. Liz Cheney by roughly 40 points in a historical race many saw as a referendum about former president Donald Trump.
In deep-red Wyoming, and after her resounding victory in the primaries, it’s likely that Hageman will cruise through the November election to win Wyoming’s House seat.
Libertarian candidate Richard Brubaker said he suspects that’s why Hageman didn’t feel it necessary to show up for the debate.
“The only reason I can think that Harriet would not show is that she feels so confident that everybody will vote for the big ‘R,’ that she does not need to communicate with ‘We the People,’” he said.
Grey Bull also said she believes that Hageman is “just so confident” about winning the general election that “she doesn’t feel the need to share her thoughts and her ideas.” The general election is Nov. 8.