Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Our Stand: Governor Bentley should stop hiding

  The powers wielded by an incumbent governor cannot be enumerated here. Those are far too numerous to list. But no elected official seeking reelection should exercise the power to dodge a debate with his or her opponent. It's a disservice to everyone living under that individual's leadership.

  Within the past few days, Republican Gov. Robert Bentley has flatly refused to engage in any direct debate with his opponent, Democrat nominee Parker Griffith. In a press release, the governor coupled the refusal with a condescending cheap shot: "My opponent's actions prove he has no interest in such civil political discourse, making any debate with him meaningless in helping people make up their mind in this election." And we would be remiss if we failed to note that Bentley has previously stated that he is willing to debate.

  We've pored over Bentley's comment and translated it as follows: "I'm afraid I'll have to answer for my record. I'm not comfortable discussing anything with anyone who may dare to question or criticize me."

  Analysts and pundits alike seem to think this race isn't very competitive and that Griffith's odds of unseating a popular Republican incumbent in an overwhelmingly conservative state are slim. But voters deserve an opportunity to see and hear the candidates spar, exchange ideas, and articulate their respective platforms and their vision for our state's future.

  A seemingly secure incumbent dodging a debate is nothing new. The prevailing sentiment among political handlers is that there's nothing to gain for an incumbent who already holds a healthy lead in the polls. But this shouldn't be about the incumbent; it's about the voters. Alabama voters deserve at least one debate between Robert Bentley and Parker Griffith.

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