Stymied in his efforts to get Democratic Rep. Heath Shuler to formally debate him, Republican challenger Carl Mumpower says he’s taken matters into his own hands.
The result is “Shulerman,” a cardboard cutout that Mumpower intends to tote around to various events to stand in for the incumbent. Mumpower unveiled the cutout at a Sept. 16 press conference on the steps of Asheville City Hall.
Mumpower said he and Shulerman will kick off a “missing man” debate series in Swain County at the County Administration Building, beginning at 6 p.m. on Thurs, Oct. 9.
Mumpower has repeatedly called for debates throughout the 11th Congressional District, to no avail, he says. However, the two men are slated to appear together—in the flesh—at a public forum in Murphy on Oct. 2 at the Cherokee County Courthouse (see “The meet in Murphy: Shuler and Mumpower agree to forum,” Sept. 17 Xpress).
“Two candidates for the same political office answering questions from a moderator in front of an audience sure seems like a debate to me,” Shuler campaign spokesman Andrew Whalen recently told Xpress. “In fact, it strikes me as very similar to the debates held repeatedly throughout the presidential primary season.”
However, Mumpower said at his press conference, which drew around 35 people, the Murphy forum is hardly a debate in the real sense. “Heath Shuler has avoided all debates to this point. The event in October in Murphy is the most distant city in our district, on the border of Tennessee, and—by the descriptions of the organizers—is not a debate, but a political forum for a host of candidates,” said Mumpower, referencing a letter from the forum host, the Cherokee Scout newspaper, and its editor Robert Horne.
As a result, Mumpower said, “My Shulerman will travel with me throughout the district. … Rep. Shuler’s position will be represented by PowerPoint slides [and] handouts that illuminate his quotes, notes and votes on regional, national and international issues. We will uphold the 9th Commandment [Thou shall not bear false witness] and respect his positions with fairness and accuracy. In each case we will center the debate on questions from those who attend.”