A planned debate between Alabama Republicans running for U.S. Senate before the May 24 primary appears to be off after businessman Mike Durant turned down three proposed dates.
Alabama Republican Party chair John Wahl told AL.com that Katie Britt and U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks had agreed to three separate dates but that Durant declined.
“The Alabama Republican Party is very supportive of an open and fair debate process. We felt it was important that Republican candidates had a debate platform they could trust and that was not biased against Republicans,” Wahl told APR in a message Sunday.
“We offered our U.S. Senate candidates the opportunity to join in a Republican Primary debate sponsored by the ALGOP, but were not able to find a date that would work for all three candidates. For this reason it does not look like a senate debate will happen before the primary election, but we remain hopeful that something may still be possible in the runoff,” Wahl continued.
“We had dates that worked for Katie Britt and Mo Brooks, but we were not able to find a date that worked for the Durant campaign,” Wahl told AL.com. APR‘s attempts to reach Durant’s campaign for comment were unsuccessful.
Durant had earlier said he’d take part in the debate. His campaign in a message to AL.com on Friday didn’t address the about face.
“The career politicians continue to play political games. We’re going to continue traveling around the state taking our pro-Trump conservative message straight to the voters, just like (Sen. Tommy) Tuberville did. We aren’t letting the losing campaigns dictate what happens,” Durant’s campaign said.
Durant told WTVY on Thursday that perhaps he’d debate after the primary.
“Maybe we can do (a debate) during the runoff, if there is a runoff,” he told the news station.
Britt’s campaign manager, Sean Ross, in a statement to APR said Britt accepted three dates and was looking forward to the debate.
“Mike Durant not only is afraid to debate Katie Britt, but now he’s also lying about it,” Ross said. “We accepted three separate dates for the Alabama Republican Party/Nexstar debate and were looking forward to Katie showing on stage that she’s the best candidate to defend our Christian conservative values and fight for the America First agenda.”
“Durant, however, declined to accept a single date for a debate, just like he’s declining to denounce the Lincoln Project on the campaign trail,” ross continued. “Mike Durant should just come out and admit the truth: he’s still waiting on permission from his liberal, anti-Trump Big Tech backers in California.”
Brooks in a statement alleged that Britt also refused to debate, which Wahl and Britt’s campaign said was incorrect, and that Britt had agreed to three dates.
“Trojan Horse candidates Mike Durant and Katie Britt refuse debates because they will be exposed and embarrassed by their lack of skill and public policy knowledge,” Brooks said. “Their strategy is to run polls, hire expensive marketing people, and to air slick ads that parrot back to the public what the polls say the public wants to hear, all paid for by open borders and cheap foreign labor special interest groups or far left-wing nut-jobs who prefer amoral, dictatorial Socialism over the MAGA agenda. Notably, there is no requirement that either candidate believe their ads.”