Republican incumbent Todd Young has agreed to participate in two debates in Indiana’s Ninth Congressional District race, but Democratic challenger Shelli Yoder wants more forums.
The debates will be held at Franklin College in Johnson County and O’Bannon Publishing in Harrison County, but the Yoder campaign alleges Young is ignoring the need for additional debates in populated areas.
Yoder campaign manager Katie Carlson says Young sought seven debates when he ran against then-Congressman Baron Hill two years ago, and that the negotiations are ongoing.
“We have not reached an agreement on the number of debates. We believe that more debates are necessary to give voters of the Ninth District an opportunity to hear from both of their candidates for Congress and an opportunity to discuss issues that are most important to them,” she says.
But Young campaign manager Trevor Foughty says they have been negotiating with Yoder in good faith and that these two events provide geographic balance.
“We tried to keep the negotiations away from the political theatrics and the spotlight so we could maintain a level trust. I’m not sure (the Yoder campaign) always did that,” he says, adding Yoder violated an agreement to keep negotiations in private. “But we’ve got an agreement for two debates and we’re looking forward to talking about the issues that matter to voters in this district now rather than this debate about the debates.”
Yoder is fighting to gain attention in a race where Young is favored to retain his seat. Fundraising totals thus far show Young has a commanding lead with over $1 million compared to less than $150,000 garnered by Yoder.
The more debates and more media attention for Yoder gives her a better chance to get her message out to voters, and that’s a chief concern of her campaign.
“It is a concern that they are only interested in debating in areas that have lower populations and are avoiding areas with a higher concentration of voters, making it more difficult for voters to reach those locations and for the media,” says Carlson.
No dates for the two forums have been announced.