Dear Attorney General Cooper,

We understand from published news reports that you have declined to debate your opponent in the Democratic primary for governor at High Point University on March 1.

If these reports are accurate, this is indeed a regrettable decision, and we urge you to reconsider.

As a newspaper serving more than 35,000 readers across the Triad each week, we intend to cover the debate, and your absence will be conspicuously observed. Of greater importance, voters in High Point, Greensboro and Winston-Salem deserve the opportunity to hear from both candidates, find out where they stand on the issues and gauge their ability to think on their feet. There is no substitute for a debate in getting a feel for how informed candidates are and how well they deal with pressure.

It’s frankly insulting that you would pass up an opportunity to speak to voters in the Triad. While your decision might be guided by a strategic calculation, as the presumed frontrunner, that debating does not work to your advantage, your refusal also gives the unfortunate impression that you don’t want Triad citizens’ votes.[pullquote]As a newspaper serving more than 35,000 readers across the Triad each week, we intend to cover the debate, and your absence will be conspicuously observed. [/pullquote]

We are the third-largest urban region in the state, with more than 500,000 registered voters in Guilford and Forsyth counties. You likely cannot win the election without the Triad. If you take us for granted during election time, how much confidence can you place in you to consider our citizens’ needs when you’re in office?

This is a critical election and many voters in the Triad are ardently seeking an alternative to the socially regressive, mean-spirited, anti-poor and economically counterproductive policies of Pat McCrory. It’s vitally important to have a vigorous debate on the issues so that the Democratic Party nominates the best candidate to challenge McCrory in the general election and North Carolina voters have true choice.

You must appreciate that an enlivening primary contest will send Democratic voters into the general election feeling energized. By refusing to debate your primary opponent, you are squandering the opportunity to allow voters to get to know you and get them excited about your candidacy, not to mention a chance to prove you have the mettle to effectively take the fight to McCrory in the fall. Voters want to know what you’re about beyond platitudes, family portraits and carefully crafted campaign speeches. If your only strategy is to be the anti-McCrory, you won’t win.

In short, we want to see you and hear from you on March 1. We sincerely hope you will reconsider your decision and pay us the respect of speaking with the people of the Triad directly.


The Triad City Beat editorial team

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