State Sen. Patty Pansing Brooks of Lincoln, left, is running against U.S. Rep. Mike Flood, R-Neb.this fall in the 1st Congressional District. (Aaron Sanderford/Nebraska Examiner)
LINCOLN — The first salvo over political debates during the 2022 general election in Nebraska was fired Wednesday as State Sen. Patty Pansing Brooks challenged her Republican opponent in the 1st Congressional District, U.S. Rep. Mike Flood, to two televised debates.
Pansing Brooks, a Lincoln lawyer, said she had accepted debate invitations “weeks, even months, ago” from two television stations, KETV in Omaha and KLKN in Lincoln, and “now it’s time for Mike Flood to do the same.”
Chris Triebsch, the manager of Pansing Brooks’ campaign, suggested that Flood, a former state senator from Norfolk, was “stalling.”
A spokesman for the Flood campaign fired back, saying that the congressman intends to debate, and that “try as she might, Patty Pansing Brooks does not get to unilaterally dictate debates.”
“We are assessing all invitations, and will make decisions that best fit with Congressman Flood’s schedule,” said campaign spokesman Matthew Trail.
No dates have been selected for either debate proposed by KETV and KLKN.
Debates an issue in primary
Debates became an issue in this spring’s GOP gubernatorial primary after University of Nebraska Regent Jim Pillen attended fewer joint appearances as the May primary approached. That drew criticism from his main rival, Falls City businessman Charles Herbster.
No debates have been scheduled so far between Pillen and his opponent from the Democratic Party, State Sen. Carol Blood of Bellevue.
And, no debates are slated for the Nebraska State Fair, which has traditionally hosted political debates in gubernatorial races.
No State Fair debates
Fair Executive Director Bill Ogg said he didn’t even get an inquiry about a State Fair debate this year, which he considered surprising.
The Pansing Brooks and Flood campaigns differed on how many debates had been held between the two candidates prior to the June, special election. The special election was held to determine who filled out the remaining months of the term of U.S. Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, who resigned after a jury found him guilty of lying to federal investigators.
Triebsch said it was one debate on KETV and one joint appearance before the Lincoln Independent Business Association (LIBA). Trail said that both were debates, and are just as many debates as Fortenberry had in 2020 with his opponent, then State Sen. Kate Bolz of Lincoln.
Trail said that the appearance before LIBA had “essentially” the same format as the debate on KETV.
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