Republican Congressman Steve Southerland (FL-2) says he won’t debate Democratic challenger Gwen Graham until she gets outside groups to stop running attack ads against him.
That was the response Southerland’s campaign issued this week after Graham wrote him a letter asking to schedule a series of debates in the district that stretches from Panama City to Tallahassee. She says voters deserve to see a side-by-side comparison of the candidates.
“I can’t control, neither can Congressman Southerland, what the outside groups do," she says. "I’m just focused on providing the people of this district the opportunity to hear where we both stand on the issues that matter to them.”
Graham says she’d like at least three debates on topics including job creation, education and the economy.
Her campaign says Southerland’s applying a double standard with his refusal. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, outside groups spent about $1 million attacking Southerland’s opponents during each of his last two elections.