Absent Senate debates now set for today, Friday
An important element has been missing in the New Mexico U.S. Senate race: a public debate. But tonight, just five days before the Nov. 4 election, the incumbent Tom Udall will meet face-to-face with his Republican challenger, Allen Weh.
The debate will be simulcast at 7 p.m. on KNME, Channel 5 and on KUNM, 89.9 FM. The debate can be heard throughout the state on other public TV and radio outlets. And, a second and final debate between Udall and Weh is scheduled for Friday at noon on KOB-TV, Channel 4.
Until now, both candidates have attacked each other through their TV and radio spots.
“It will be a good one, I guarantee you. You will learn things about candidates you did not know,” Franz Joachim, general manager of KNME said about tonight’s debate.
In the broadcast tonight, it is expected that Udall and Weh will debate over national issues that have a direct connection with local voters.
“There are a lot of national issues that are effective to greater or lesser degrees but, I think we did a good job of focusing on those ones that have specific impact; immigration, gun control, water rights. Those that are specific to New Mexico,” Joachim said.
It took numerous challenges and debate invitations from Weh before Udall agreed to the debates. Weh, through his website challenged Udall on more than one occasion.
“Tom owes it to New Mexicans to step up to the plate…” Weh said on his site. “Debates offer voters the chance to evaluate him, his record, and our contrast.”
Weh also challenged Udall on his YouTube and Twitter accounts.
Michael Coleman, reporter for the Albuquerque Journal’s Washington bureau said many hoped to see the candidates face off.
“I think the problem that we in the media and certainly voters have is that they don’t want a prepackaged candidate,” Coleman said. “They want the candidate speaking candidly and answering challenging questions about difficult issues.”
Udall’s office declined to give an official response to Weh’s debate invitations. He, however did make public his involvement in previously arranged events and meetings that were set on the same nights of the previous debate challenges done by Weh.
This week’s debates could serve as a shift in Weh’s campaign as election day draws near.
John Fund of the National Review, recently wrote that Weh could a be an election day surprise as Udall’s poll numbers have dwindled in the last month.
The road to the debates
Before this week’s debates, both candidates made heavy use of radio and t.v. ads.
In the past month, both candidates have made appearances throughout the state. Weh and Udall have both visited Grants, Silver City and Santa Fe.
Despite making themselves available right before the election, the candidates rarely announced their appearances beforehand. In the past two weeks, neither candidate notified via social media the public of any events that they would be participating in until after the event had occurred.
“I think what’s happening it that campaigns are trying to much more closely guard and manage their message and their candidate and they don’t want to put their candidate in a position where they might be asked a question that they can answer in a way that would create a gaff or an embarrassing reply,” Coleman said.
Compared to Weh, Udall hasn’t made as many events in the state, appearing in 10 public appearances in the state since July.
“I think what campaigns are doing more and more is they’re going on television, they’re sending direct mail to your homes, they’re on the internet, they got their Facebook pages, and it allows them to get their message out in the way they want it to get out,” Coleman said.[/text_output][share title=”Share this Post” facebook=”true” twitter=”true” google_plus=”true” linkedin=”true” pinterest=”true”][/vc_column][/vc_row]