U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham will not participate in an October 13 debate with his challengers on South Carolina Educational Television (ETV).
ETV’s Tom Posey told the Associated Press on Thursday that Democratic State Sen. Brad Hutto, D-Orangeburg, and independent petition candidate Thomas Ravenel will instead debate without Graham in a 30-minute program.
Both of Graham’s opponents quickly condemned the incumbent for not taking part. “How can Lindsey continue to advocate for American boots on the ground all over the Middle East and beyond when he himself doesn’t have the courage to participate in an hour long debate with me and Thomas Ravenel?” Hutto said in a statement.
Meanwhile, Ravenel also released a statement. “Sen. Graham has time to appear on various television talk shows every Sunday morning and trot around the globe with Sen. John McCain, but he can’t be bothered to debate his opponents in his home state? I find that highly arrogant and disrespectful to the citizens of South Carolina, who deserve better.”
Graham’s spokesman Tate Zeigler said the campaign is in discussion with other groups and looking at the senator’s schedule for another debate possibility in the future. Voters will head to the polls on November 4.
Graham is seeking a third, six-year term after easily winning the Republican primary over six Tea Party-aligned challengers in June.
Hutto has been in the state Senate since 1996, representing parts of Orangeburg and five other rural counties. Ravenel is real estate developer and reality TV star. He was elected state Treasurer in 2006 but resigned and pleaded guilty to a felony drug charge.
Libertarian candidate Victor Kocher will not participate in the debate.