St. Louis Public Radio’s efforts to host a debate between St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley and his chief Democratic rival, Councilman Steve Stenger, appear to have failed.
While Dooley’s campaign had agreed in principle to a debate hosted by the station, Dooley has not agreed to any of the dates St. Louis Public Radio offered. Instead, the Dooley campaign insists that any debate be held at the station on Thursday, July 31 or Friday, Aug. 1. That’s just days before the Aug. 5 primary.
Stenger had agreed to two of the station’s proposed dates – July 16 and July 23. He cannot participate on July 31 because of scheduling conflicts, a spokesman said. St. Louis Public Radio’s programming prevents it from broadcasting a debate on Aug. 1.
“Given that Dooley's folks won't move off the 31st and Stenger can't do the 31st, I would say that this isn't going to happen,” said St. Louis Public Radio general manager Tim Eby.
Dooley's campaign also declined the station's initial proposal to hold the debate before an audience at the Touhill Performing Arts Center on the campus of the University of Missouri-St. Louis.
Without a Democratic debate, it's unlikely that the station will hold a debate between the two Republican candidates, state Rep. Rick Stream and Green Park Councilman Tony Pousosa. Instead, the station is focusing on other ways to get the candidates on air to discuss the issues before voters.
Said Stenger's spokesman Ed Rhode: “The Stenger campaign has bent over backward and made numerous concessions in order to debate the issues. It has become clear to us that Mr. Dooley is not interested in allowing voters evaluate his record. The voters deserve better than this.”
Dooley's campaign has yet to respond to a request for comment.
The two have agreed to one joint appearance, at an evening forum on July 16 to be conducted by the League of Women Voters at the Florissant Valley campus of St. Louis Community College. Also invited are the other county executive candidates, from all political parties. Dooley initially had declined to participate, but a spokeswoman said Wednesday that the county executive now plans to take part.