Thursday, April 29, 2010

King and Ali Lock Horns Over Debates

Clearly weary of needling from Delegate Saqib Ali on the subject of debates, Senator Nancy King has responded that she will meet the challenger on her terms. And of course, Ali had something to say about that. Hide the children and enjoy the entertainment, folks!

Yesterday, King sent the following letter to Ali.

April 28, 2010

Dear Saqib:

Several friends of mine forwarded your press release “challenging” me to debate – your first such challenge since announcing your intention to enter the race to represent District 39 in the Maryland Senate. After receiving their emails, I checked my voicemail, my email and my snail mail. I did not find a message from you anywhere.

Sending a press release in place of direct contact might be the style of Washington politics, but it’s not how our constituents expect us to treat each other. In fact, the people we serve are tired of politicians who go for cheap points in the press, but deny each other basic courtesy when no one is watching.

I welcome the chance to debate. I am proud of my lifelong service to our community and my track record of championing our public schools and protecting our community’s families. I look forward to the opportunity to confront your repeated distortions of my record in open public forums.

Your press release was not specific about your challenge, so I am offering my own. In addition to the candidate forums hosted by community organizations in our district, let’s hold three debates this summer – one in June, one in July and one in August. Each debate will be hosted by a neutral moderator and will be open to the general public.

I hope you will give me the courtesy of a direct response, either by phone, email or snail mail. If you prefer to respond by press release, I hope you will give me the courtesy of adding me to your distribution list.


Senator Nancy King
Within hours, Ali emailed the following response to King:


Thank you for your prompt response to my debate request. I am glad that you are willing to join me in discussing the issues that most affect our constituents in District 39.

As you know, I have said many times that I have great personal respect for you and hold you in the highest regard. However, I will take strong exception to any accusation that I have distorted your positions. Every statement that I have made about your record has been strictly based on publicly-verifiable votes you have cast and public statements you have made. These are clear matters of public record and I stand by my words. Such an accusation of distortion rings hollow without citing any specific statement. I urge you to provide such a citation if you can find one.

Frankly, I was a bit surprised to see your letter insinuating that I was going for "cheap political points in the press." I have never leveled a single personal attack against you but instead have steadfastly argued only about substantial policy issues. I pledge to continue to do so throughout the entirety of this campaign. Debate and criticism of our legislative records is certainly fair game. On the other hand, you have publicly called me "crazed" and "desperate" in the newspapers and even made false ethics allegations against me. For this reason your complaint would seem to be devoid of any credibility.

In addition to the three debates that you recommended, I insist that we also hold one joint appearance on a radio or television broadcast for those constituents who cannot attend the public forums. I know that Mr. Charles Duffy often hosts such debates on the television show “Political Pulse” on Comcast. I am confident that he would invite us to make a joint appearance on his show. Otherwise, Kojo Nnamdi seemed open to us making a joint appearance on his radio show on WAMU.

Our campaigns can coordinate to arrange the logistics surrounding all four events. As you mentioned in your letter, we should take extra care to ensure that the moderator is unbiased.

All the best,