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Democrats keep dodging debates

Nevada features some of the highest-profile and expensive political races in the country. But Nevadans won’t get to see many debates. There’s a reason for that. Jacky Rosen, Steve Sisolak and Susie Lee keep dodging them.

That’s ironic because, after the primary, all three of those campaigns issued debate challenges to their Republican opponents.

In June, Rep. Rosen wanted “three televised debates with Nevada media outlets after Labor Day” with her Republican opponent, U.S. Sen. Dean Heller. Sisolak proposed three debates for the governor’s race. Lee wanted two television debates against Danny Tarkanian in the race for Nevada’s 3rd Congressional District.

Then something funny happened. Republicans accepted debate invitations from media organizations, and their once-bold Democrat opponents refused to participate. In August, Heller announced he had accepted a Reno debate on Oct. 8 and a Las Vegas debate for mid-October. Oct. 8 was last week, but there wasn’t a debate. Rosen refused to show up. The only Senate debate voters will see is scheduled for Friday on Channel 8. Rosen flip-flopped.

But at least there will be a Senate debate. That’s not the case in the gubernatorial race, pending something unforeseen. In August, Republican Adam Laxalt agreed to an Oct. 15 debate airing statewide and hosted by the Review-Journal and Channel 3 in Las Vegas. The moderators also would have included a representative from Telemundo.

You would have thought Sisolak would have quickly said yes and then repeated his call for two more debates. Instead, Sisolak waited until early October to decline the invitation and countered with a proposal for a debate hosted by Channel 8 in Las Vegas. Another flip-flop.

Tarkanian wasn’t satisfied with two debates. He proposed doing three debates and three town halls. Lee, however, agreed to only one debate. Channel 8 hosted a tape-delayed event aired over two weekends in September. Lee has refused to do more, so Tarkanian took the debate to her — literally. Last week, he plopped down two podiums in front of her campaign office and took questions from the small crowd. That was a clever way to highlight Lee’s flip-flop.

Democrats have offered a variety of excuses for skipping out of the very debates they once demanded. Rosen didn’t want to do the Reno debate because the company that owns the TV station made a donation to Heller. Sisolak cited the “continued skewed coverage of our campaign from the Review-Journal’s editorial page.”

That’s quite the claim coming from a campaign that used private security to keep me out of one of its press events and won’t return calls seeking comment.

Sounds as if what they’re really afraid of is being asked tough questions, such as why Rosen supports sanctuary cities and voted against the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act. For his part, Sisolak won’t say if he’ll sign a bill overturning right-to-work or how many guns he wants to ban.

Contrast that with the actions of Republican candidates, who’ve agreed to debates on Channel 8. Those debates are co-moderated by Steve Sebelius. He does a good job. He’s also a well-known liberal, once penning a left-leaning column for the Review-Journal.

Four months after demanding numerous debates, Democrats now refuse to participate without the security blanket of a moderator who they know agrees with them.

Victor Joecks’ column appears in the Opinion section each Sunday, Wednesday and Friday. Listen to him discuss his columns each Monday at 9 a.m. with Kevin Wall on 790 Talk Now. Contact him at vjoecks@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4698. Follow @victorjoecks on Twitter.

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