Talk Business & Politics and its television content partners will host separate gubernatorial and Congressional forums in September, but Republican incumbents have chosen not to participate.
From 7-8 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 10, Democrat Jared Henderson and Libertarian Mark West will participate in a gubernatorial Q&A debate forum with television journalists from KATV, KFSM, KAIT and Talk Business & Politics through a live-stream on all 4 news outlets’ web sites and Facebook pages. Gov. Asa Hutchinson, R-Ark., was invited to participate in the debate, but declined the invitation.
From 7-8 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 19, Democrat Clarke Tucker will participate in a similar Q&A forum with television journalists from KATV and Talk Business & Politics through a live-stream on both news outlets’ web sites and Facebook pages. U.S. Rep. French Hill, R-Little Rock, was invited to participate in the debate, but declined the invitation.
“We are excited to provide these forums to candidates for voters to make informed choices in these two high-profile races,” said Roby Brock, Talk Business & Politics CEO. “Many thanks to Henderson, West and Tucker for agreeing to participate. I’m disappointed that Gov. Hutchinson and Rep. Hill declined our invitations. We were open to modifying the proposals to accommodate them.”
Originally, the debate proposals included pre-empting national network programming to broadcast the two debates during primetime television on the TV stations involved. With the lack of participation from incumbent elected officials, gaining network approval for pre-emption is more difficult.
Both forums will take place in the KATV studio at 4th and Main Streets in Little Rock with KFSM and KAIT anchors participating in the gubernatorial debate from Fort Smith and Jonesboro, respectively.
“2018 is an important election cycle for Arkansas,” said Nick Genty, KATV news director. “Through the forums we will conduct, we know that voters will learn more about their choices for Congress and for Governor. As a news organization, we’ve provided these forums for the serious candidates to speak to voters and we hope viewers will take advantage of this opportunity.”
The participating candidates expressed their views on the forums.
“I am looking forward to participating in this debate. It’s no surprise that Asa Hutchinson no longer wants to be on the same stage with us, because we’re holding him accountable on Arkansas’s corrupt state government, crumbling infrastructure, teacher pay, tax cuts for the wealthy, and leaving behind rural communities,” said Jared Henderson, Democratic nominee for Arkansas governor. “As Governor, I will answer to the voters of Arkansas anytime, anywhere and fight to make Arkansas the best place in the country to be a public school teacher, protect our rural hospitals, lower the cost of health care, promote small business development, and tackle childhood poverty.”
“I’m excited and looking forward to each and every opportunity given our campaign to take our message of making Arkansas the ‘Destination State for Liberty’ directly to voters in this wonderful state,” said Mark West, Libertarian nominee for Arkansas governor. “I’m disappointed that our Governor will not be participating in the upcoming debate, but I’m thrilled to share the stage with the Democratic candidate, Jared Henderson. Our debate will be a lively contrast of impassioned ideas centered on the goal of improving our state for hard-working Arkansans.”
“It’s a sacred responsibility for those seeking or holding public office to be accessible and available to the community and to the people they hope to represent. I want to thank Talk Business & Politics and KATV for the opportunity to discuss the issues facing our district,” said Clarke Tucker, Democratic nominee for the Second Congressional District. “Health care costs are too high, our children need access to better education and opportunities, folks are working two, sometimes three jobs and still struggling to make ends meet, Medicare is under attack, we need to do more for our veterans. While I am disappointed my opponent is unwilling to discuss these issues that are so important to Arkansas families in this widely accessible setting, I look forward to the opportunity to hear from and talk with the voters of this district.”