Roe weighs in on congressional debate controversy

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KINGSPORT, Tenn. (WJHL) — Republican Rep. Phil Roe believes it is not essential to have a debate between the two main candidates vying for his spot in the House of Representatives.

The congressman’s comments come after Republican congressional nominee Diana Harshbarger said she will not debate Democratic nominee Blair Walsingham because she doesn’t want to dignify her opponent’s alleged anti-police platform.

Walsingham called Harshbarger’s comments “divisive rhetoric” and a misrepresentation of her platform. She also said her opponent’s refusal to debate was a “blatant disregard for the democratic process.”

Both candidates, along with independent candidate Steve Holder, are running for the congressional seat currently held by Roe, who is not running for a seventh term.

While attending a Republicans of Kingsport lunch on Tuesday, Roe told News Channel 11 that he likes debates, but doesn’t think they are critical.

“It’s kind of a call, I think, the candidate can decide,” Roe said. “And we’ve had, you know, Jimmy Quillen was here for 34 years. I don’t think he ever had a debate during his…17 terms in office. I kind of enjoy the debates, myself.”

“I don’t think it’s absolutely necessary.”

Roe said he debated two of the four Democratic candidates he has faced.

Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 3.

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