Under the Dome

Davie County Republicans look to host primary debate – with or without Burr

Sen. Richard Burr answers a question during an interview after speaking at the Kannapolis Rotary Club in Kannapolis, N.C., on Tuesday, April 7, 2015.
Sen. Richard Burr answers a question during an interview after speaking at the Kannapolis Rotary Club in Kannapolis, N.C., on Tuesday, April 7, 2015. dtfoster@charlotteobserver.com

Following news that Gov. Pat McCrory and Sen. Richard Burr won’t debate their Republican primary opponents, GOP leaders in Davie County say they still hope to host a televised debate in Mocksville for congressional candidates.

Richard Carter, a Davie County Republican Party precinct chairman and school board candidate, said in an email to The News & Observer that several other candidates for U.S. Senate and House have agreed to attend.

“Republican voters in North Carolina deserve a primary debate between candidates for the United States House and Senate,” Carter said. “I submit there are no legitimate reasons that justify avoiding a primary debate.”

Carter said he’s received confirmation from the Senate campaigns of Larry Holmquist and Greg Brannon that they’re willing to debate. The Davie GOP also wants to hear from the congressional candidates in their district: Republican incumbent Rep. Virginia Foxx and her primary challenger, Pattie Curran. Curran has told the party she’s willing to debate.

“Allowing Virginia Foxx and Richard Burr the power to deny the people a primary debate is precisely why so many do not trust them, do not trust the North Carolina Republican Party, and do not trust the North Carolina news media,” Carter said.

Time Warner Cable News approached the Burr campaign about a possible debate, but Burr strategist Paul Shumaker told the station that the campaign would only consider debates in the general election, explaining that Burr’s opponents hadn’t raised money and “no media source I know has taken them as a credible candidate.”

Holmquist’s campaign issued a news release Tuesday criticizing Burr’s decision. “Mr. Burr’s decision to run from a debate with his primary opponents is both shameful and cowardly, but predictable, given his pathetic record,” Holmquist said. “He’d look foolish on stage trying to defend that.”

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