Republican congressional candidate Carl Mumpower will finally get to go toe to toe in public with incumbent Democratic Rep. Heath Shuler, though the event is not exactly what Mumpower envisioned when he began challenging Shuler unsuccessfully to debate him several weeks ago.
Mumpower is calling for at least eight debates between the two candidates. Instead he and Shuler will take part in a moderated town hall-style forum that won’t allow for the typical back-and-forth and rebuttals.
The forum will take place at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 2, at the Cherokee County Courthouse, located at 75 Peachtree St. in Murphy. The Cherokee Scout newspaper is hosting the event, and the paper’s publisher, in a letter to the candidates, says, “the format is not a debate but a dialogue between the candidates and the public.”
“I think the best people to define what a debate is are the people putting it on, and their letter specifically states it’s not a debate,” Mumpower tells Xpress. “I’m going to do everything I can to illuminate what I perceive is his … effort to conceal his voting record.”
At the event, which will also feature separate forums for candidates in other races, questions will be compiled by the Scout in advance from the public and newspaper staff members. Each candidate will offer opening and closing statements, and will answer the same questions in the same amount of time.
While Mumpower decries the lack of a debate, Shuler campaign spokesman Andrew Whalen wonders what all the fuss is about.
“Two candidates for the same political office answering questions from a moderator in front of an audience sure seems like a debate to me,” Whalen tells Xpress. “In fact, it strikes me as very similar to the debates held repeatedly throughout the presidential primary season.”
However, the joint appearance between the two may also be Mumpower’s only chance to appear with Shuler. Whalen told the Scout the forum will be the only one Shuler attends before the election.