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Rantz: Gov Inslee refuses in-person debate with Republican Culp

At this June 23rd press conference, Governor Jay Inslee addressed the state without wearing a mask.

Incumbent Governor Jay Inslee refuses to debate Republican challenger Loren Culp in-person, a source with the Washington State Debate Coalition tells the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH.

Instead, Inslee’s team is angling for a digital debate over Zoom, where he can participate from his home. This despite assurances that an in-person debate would practice social distancing and other coronavirus best-practices recommended by Inslee’s own administration.

Inslee’s campaign has not responded to multiple requests for comment.

Inslee says no to debate over mask wearing

According to the source, Inslee won’t participate because Culp won’t wear a mask during the debate and Inslee will refuse to remove his. If this is Inslee’s position, as the source states, the insistence that both participants wear a mask during the debate isn’t just odd. It breaks with what Inslee himself practices.

While at group press conferences in the past, Inslee has worn a mask when not speaking and removed it when he does. And that’s while sharing the same microphone with other people. It’s standard practice across the country and safe. He’s even refused to wear a mask during one recent press conference saying, “I only took mine off because of the First Amendment.”

The plan from the Washington State Debate Coalition was to separate the two candidates by ten feet on a stage in a TVW studio in Olympia. Three moderators would also be separated by ten feet to ensure social distancing. There would be limited staff members from TVW on site during the debate to allow for less crowding. Though this wouldn’t look especially appealing, the coalition prefers in-person debate for the best product.

But Inslee’s team is stubbornly saying no, according to the source.

“We heard back from Inslee… and he wants to debate from his house while everyone else is at TVW,” the debate coalition source reveals to the Jason Rantz Show. “It is turning into a cluster at this point.”

Now, an alternative plan is being developed where both candidates would debate from different offices at TVW in Olympia. The coalition hopes Culp will agree and is trying to convince Inslee to come to the studio. A potential date is October 6, 2020.

Loren Culp is ready to debate, even if Inslee isn’t

Republic Police Chief Culp hasn’t heard anything from Inslee since challenging him to a debate. Culp’s only requirements is that it be live and on the same debate stage.

“I didn’t want him behind a computer screen where his high priced consultants can tell him how to answer questions,” Culp tells the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH. “I wanna have it live, you know, like in the real world. And I told him he could be as far away from me as he wants to. He can even wear two masks if he felt safer.”

Not only would Inslee benefit from the possibility of having in-person help crafting answers during the debate, a Zoom-style event takes away from the ability of both candidates to directly interact with each other and actually respond to what’s being said in the moment. Instead, it wouldn’t be a debate. It would be uninterrupted monologues that wouldn’t benefit the voters.

Culp, who opposes a statewide mask mandate but recommends you wear a mask when you feel it appropriate, says he won’t wear a mask during the debate because the debate would be safe.

“We could put him in a hazmat suit so he could feel safer, with his own oxygen supply,” Culp jokes.

Listen to the Jason Rantz Show weekday afternoons from 3-6 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (or HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here. Follow @JasonRantz on Twitter and Instagram or like me on Facebook

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