By Tim Leeds/Havre Daily Newsfirstname.lastname@example.org
One of the candidates for Montana's sole seat in the U.S. House has accepted an invitation to debate in Havre, but the incumbent has declined.
"I asked for a Havre debate from the get-go because I believe that the issues of rural Montana deserve to be addressed," Democrat Tracy Velazquez said in a press release e-mailed to the Daily News this week.
Erik Iverson, campaign manager for Republican incumbent Denny Rehberg, said today the debate schedule was set in March and Rehberg will not add another debate now.
"We offered to debate her four times. She agreed," Iverson said. "We are declining (to add a fifth). We have had a debate schedule planned for six months."
Rehberg and Velazquez debated in Great Falls in June, and have debates scheduled in Billings, Helena and Pablo.
Iverson said that if Velazquez wanted a debate in Havre, she could have set that location for one of the debates.
Velazquez said she tried.
She said that from the start she wanted to have debates in eastern Montana. Rehberg proposed four debates - in Great Falls, Billings, Kalispell and Helena - and she asked to have six debates, she said.
She said she proposed having debates in Great Falls, Billings, Bozeman, Pablo, Miles City and Havre, which would have included an Indian reservation, a university town, and rural eastern Montana towns.
Rehberg declined the extra debates, and the two candidates agreed to have debates in Great Falls, Billings, Bozeman and Pablo, she said.
Velazquez said in her press release that while she agreed to have those debates, she did not agree to only have four debates.
"I hope that Mr. Rehberg remembers that he owes it to voters to let them know where he stands on issues, without hiding behind his staff and slick commercials," she said in the release.
Harvey Brock, publisher of the Havre Daily News, said he extended the invitation because the people in north-central Montana deserve a chance to see their candidates debate.
Brock said he invited the candidates for governor, Republican Bob Brown and Democrat Brian Schweitzer, to debate in Havre earlier this year. He re-extended that invitation Tuesday when he invited Rehberg and Velazquez, he said.