Mr. Conspiracy, the same guy who – along with some of his supporters – has repeatedly insinuated that his fellow GOP opponent Harold Johnson was “too chicken” to debate him, has backed out of a scheduled June 9th debate:
Today NBC-17 News was informed that Tim D’Annunzio, Republican candidate for the District Eight Congressional seat, has backed out on a signed commitment to participate in a televised debate on Tuesday, June 8, 2010, sponsored by NBC-17, The Independent Tribune and The League of Women Voters of North Carolina.
On May 10, 2010, Mr. D’Annunzio signed “terms for participation” for the 60-minute debate negotiated by NBC17, The Independent Tribune and The League of Women Voters of North Carolina. Both campaigns agreed to those terms.
The purpose of the debate was to provide the voters with an opportunity to get answers from both candidates so that voters could make an informed decision on who to vote for in the June 22 run-off election.
We are disappointed to learn that Mr. D’Annunzio is withdrawing from the debate on such short notice. In a statement to NBC-17 News, Mr. D’Annunzio said:
“This is to formally inform you that due to the collaboration between the Harold Johnson campaign and the news media to use partial truth, innuendo and accusations to unfairly smear me I have decided to withdraw from the debate that was to be taped on June 8, 2010. Harold Johnson has cancelled or refused numerous scheduled, live debates and is only willing to debate in a setting that can be controlled and altered by his allies …”
Johnson issued a statement tonight in response:
Concord, North Carolina (June 1, 2010). Today, Harold Johnson, Republican Candidate for the 8th Congressional District, expressed surprise and disappointment that his opponent, Tim D’Annunzio, has dropped out of the June 8th District 8 Runoff Debate, sponsored by NBC17, The Independent Tribune and The League of Women Voters of North Carolina. District 8 voters were invited to submit questions prior to the debate, which was scheduled to air on June 9th and to be broadcast over the Internet.
In a statement to NBC17 News (see attachment), D’Annunzio claimed to be withdrawing from the debate “due to the collaboration between the Harold Johnson campaign and the news media to use partial truth, innuendo and accusations to unfairly smear me.” He also stated that Johnson “has cancelled or refused numerous scheduled, live debates and is only willing to debate in a setting that can be controlled and altered by his allies…”
Johnson emphatically denied that any such collaboration has taken place, stating “I think voters are smart enough to see through my opponent’s conspiracy theories and realize that he’s just trying to avoid answering their questions.” Johnson continued “I feel very strongly that this job is about being accountable to voters and part of that is being willing to respond to their questions. It’s not enough to claim that you’re willing to answer questions. You owe it to the voters to actually do it.”
Johnson also took issue with D’Annunzio’s claim that Johnson cancelled scheduled live debates, saying “It’s just not true. Period.”
Throughout the campaign, Johnson has made every effort to be accessible to voters, attending numerous candidate forums/debates throughout the 8th District and answering countless calls and emails from District voters. In addition to dropping out of the NBC-17 debate, D’Annunzio has dropped out of or failed to attend numerous scheduled candidate forums and other events including the Cabarrus County Men’s Club candidate forum, which gave candidates a final opportunity to answer questions before the May 4th primary; the Union County Farm Bureau candidate forum, which focused on important Agriculture issues; and a Tea Party forum in Rockingham held on April 15th. D’Annunzio also stormed off stage during a debate at the Cumberland County GOP Convention on March 6th where candidates were asked to answer randomly assigned questions from voters.
Johnson said “A campaign is about showing voters what kind of leader you will be, showing them your character. If you say you’ll do something, you have to follow through.” He added “I have made myself accessible throughout this campaign and I’ll continue to be accessible if the people of this District choose me to be their next Congressman.”
As Johnson noted, this isn’t the first time D’Annunzio’s run away from a debate. The last time he actually walked out in the middle of one, later citing yet another “us vs. them” conspiracy theory. Kinda makes you wonder when a candidate takes this “me against the world” approach to everything.
If Tim D’Annunzio can’t follow through on a basic commitment to debate Harold Johnson, how can NC8 voters believe in his commitment to them? Voters in this district’s runoff will get the chance to make their choice starting on the 3rd, when early voting starts. June 22nd is the official runoff date.