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Opinion | If they won’t debate, they don’t deserve your vote

Joey Kennedy

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If they won’t debate, take your vote elsewhere.

This summer’s and fall’s elections are important. We say this all the time, but this time it may be true: Maybe the most important elections in a long time.

If your elected officials dodge answering questions and won’t attend debates with their opponents, they clearly have something to hide. Maybe they’re just crappy debaters, but we need to know that, too.

Often, politicians avoid debates because they believe themselves to be heavy favorites. They don’t see how a debate – explaining why they support or oppose specific issues – will help them when they’re already on top.

In other words, they’re cowards.

Already, debates are being set up all over the place, even for the state’s highest office. The Democrats running for governor are willingly prepared to face off against one another. The Republicans running for governor are willingly prepared to face off against one another, as well.

Well, the Republicans except for Gov. Kay Ivey. She’s got scheduling conflicts or some other crap excuse. She said earlier this year she was open for debates, but apparently has a hair appointment or a dinner date or a planned session at the firing range. I don’t know. What I do know, is she does not have a “previous engagement” for a debate for the state’s most important office. Ivey is dodging, and she’s dodging badly.

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Remember: If a candidate won’t explain her positions in front of her opponents, hear other ideas, toss them back and forth, prove why she’s best, she does not deserve your vote.

Ivey’s campaign manager, instead of being honest as to why Ivey refuses to debate, chooses to pick on one of her opponents, Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle, who challenged Ivey to the debates.

“While Tommy is wasting yet another week on media stunts, Kay Ivey is crisscrossing the state to share the success story of Alabama working again,” said Mike Lukach.

I call BS.

The economy is good, that’s true. But it’s good just about everywhere across the country. Ivey just happens to be governor right now. True, there will be a lot of new “economic development” jobs for lawmakers, no doubt. New industry is moving to the state. That’s nothing new. Jobs have been coming into Alabama for years – decades, now – because we’re an anti-union, Right-to-Work state that’ll give away tax incentives and anything else for a factory to come here for low-wage workers.

That doesn’t explain why she refuses to debate her opponents.

So voters have a choice here. Ivey is assuming voters don’t care one way or another. Maybe they don’t. Voters certainly haven’t done a great job over the years electing quality leadership for our state, and that’s across the board.

Still, times are changing. Voters may not be as gullible as they have been in the past. They may want to hear what other ideas other candidates other than incumbents have to offer. Many younger voters, fired up by the March for Our Lives and Black Lives Matter and Me, Too movements will be heard this year. They want to know what Ivey’s GOP opponents have to offer. They may want to know even what Democrats can give Alabama that Republicans can’t.

Judging from the past few years, this new crop of candidates probably can at least offer less corruption, less meanness, less pedophilia.

Well, we can hope.

What we can’t do is give the sitting governor a pass when she refuses to debate her opponents. Ivey may be the best Republican. But we’ll never know unless she faces her rivals and proves it. Put up or shut up, Kay Ivey.

So far, all Ivey has proved is that she can take over for a despicable governor (Robert Bentley) and not appear as despicable.

That’s a pretty low bar.

Joey Kennedy, a Pulitzer Prize winner, writes a column every week for Alabama Political Reporter. Email: [email protected]

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