4:05 pm Oct. 3, 2012
Freshman Republican Rep. Richard Hanna officially kicked off his re-election bid today in the 22nd congressional district, which includes Utica, Syracuse, Rome, Binghamton and parts of the Southern Tier.
On Friday, Hanna will officially skip a televised debate.
But rather than cancel the broadcast, a local television station will still air the event live, featuring his Democratic opponent, Dan Lamb. Lamb's campaign tried grabbing reporters' attention by saying the candidate would debate Hanna's "empty chair."
I asked Bob Cartwright, the news director at WSYR-TV/News Channel 9, if the station really planned to air a single-candidate debate. His answer: yes, but not with an empty chair.
"We extended multiple invitations to the Hanna campaign... all of which he turned down," Cartwright wrote to me in an email. "Because district lines in New York State have been redrawn, we are committed to informing Central New York viewers who they will voting for in the general election next month.
"There will be no empty chair, but we will tell the viewers that invitations were extended to Mr. Hanna multiple times and he chose not to participate. The 30-minute program will be a question and answer session between two moderators (Dan Cummings from WSYR-TV/Syracuse and Joe Parker from WUTR-TV/Utica) and Mr. Lamb."
Hanna and Lamb have debated at other events, including one hosted by the League of Women Voters, where Hanna dismissed Lamb as "one of the most partisan people I've ever heard."
On Friday, Lamb will, inevitably, have the final word.
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