Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz is declining to participate in additional debates, Republican challenger Dr. Scott Jensen said in a press release Monday.
Walz and Jensen have only debated once so far this campaign season, meeting for the first time at FarmFest in early August. Since then, the governor has declined to participate in four additional debates, one at the Minnesota State Fair, another at Game Fair, a third with the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, and a fourth on TPT Almanac, according to Jensen.
The two-weekend Game Fair event in Ramsey, Minn., runs for another three days this weekend, so Walz could still change his mind.
“Given the short shrift the environment got during the legislative session, there are some tough topics to grill candidates about this year. But with Game Fair two weeks away, organizers remain disappointed that we haven’t yet locked in a governor’s debate. To his credit, Republican candidate Scott Jensen has told us he’ll attend a forum tentatively slated for Saturday, Aug. 20, but Gov. Tim Walz’s people say they’re struggling to fit us into the schedule,” Outdoor News editor Rob Drieslein wrote in an article last month.
Outdoor News and the Minnesota Outdoor Heritage Alliance co-host the quadrennial debate, according to Drieslein, who in fairness noted that there were no debates in 2006 or 2014 when Govs. Tim Pawlenty and Mark Dayton were the incumbents.
“That said, after a couple of lousy legislative sessions, there’s a general feeling among state sportsmen that the outdoors ranks low on the priority list of politicians,” Drieslein wrote. “Folks of all political stripes will tell you Walz turned in a solid performance during this same event at Game Fair four years ago, so we’re perplexed why he or his campaign staff haven’t made it a priority again in 2022.”
Jensen said the State Fair debate was scheduled to take place Sept. 2 with Minnesota Public Radio.
“Gov. Walz is literally hiding from Minnesota voters and refusing to have a discussion of the issues,” Jensen said in a statement. “While I understand that he’s embarrassed of his record on runaway inflation and out of control crime, it is the right of Minnesotans to hear from their elected officials. Unfortunately, Tim Walz is continuing his pattern of not showing up when it matters.”
In an interview last week with MPR, Walz said he is willing to participate in more debates but only if his opponent understands it’s not about “spewing conspiracy theories.”
“I would hope, Mike, if we do these debates that moderators would be very clear about this, putting out false information around COVID, yourself not being vaccinated and telling others is killing people,” Walz claimed.
As a congressman, Walz declined to participate in an MPR debate against Republican Jim Hagedorn in 2016.
“Perhaps the most disappointing aspect of Gov. Walz’s refusal to debate on Minnesota Public Radio is that he made it clear he does not want to be in front of an audience of Minnesota voters,” Jensen said.
“Gov. Walz has indicated he’d consider debating on Minnesota Public Radio only if it’s late in the election and not in front of an audience. I cannot remember a time when a Minnesota governor refused to debate at the Great Minnesota Get-together. Tim Walz is hiding from Minnesotans,” he added.
Multiple attendees confronted Walz after the Aug. 3 FarmFest debate, questioning his record on COVID-19 and the 2020 riots.
Alpha News reached out to the Walz campaign for comment but did not receive a response.