Carbondale, IL – Ray Lenzi, the Democratic candidate for Congress in Illinois’ 12th District, showed up ready to debate his opponent, U.S. Rep. Mike Bost (R-Murphysboro) last week, but Bost was nowhere to be found.
So Lenzi took his campaign out onto the “Island” at SIU-Carbondale, right across the street from Bost’s campaign office, and called him a chicken.
Lenzi’s campaign had invited Bost to join Lenzi in a debate to be televised by WSIU-TV in Carbondale, but Bost’s campaign informed debate sponsors that he would not be participating.
“This is just another attempt by Bost to hide from the voters and avoid discussion of the issues,” Lenzi said at the event. “It’s simply unbelievable that a sitting congressman would be so dismissive of his constituents!”
The WSIU-TV debate between congressional candidates has been a tradition over the years, with sponsors including media outlets and good-government groups, said Lenzi, the former coal miner turned college professor and economic development specialist. His 12th District includes Carbondale, the major Metro-East cities of Alton, Belleville, East St. Louis and Granite City, plus a large portion of the southern Illinois rural area. Bost has won the past three elections in the district.
BOST WON’T RESPOND
“Bost’s refusal to participate in the WSIU debate follows his pattern of declining to engage with our campaign and with the voters,” Lenzi said. “We have also suggested Lincoln-Douglas style debates across the 12th District, but Bost simply won’t respond, preferring to hide behind the trappings of his office.”
Sponsors had proposed a virtual debate to be conducted over the Internet and then aired on WSIU a week or so later. “The idea was to practice social distancing while having a rigorous discussion of the issues,” Lenzi said. “There would have been no concerns about spreading the coronavirus.”