Debate debacle: Will McClintock, Morse face off?

By: Brody Fernandez, Reporter
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Incumbent Congressman Tom McClintock and challenger Jessica Morse are accusing each other of avoiding a debate in a classic “he said, she said” disagreement.

For nearly a decade, Republican and avid Trump supporter Tom McClintock has decisively beaten all challengers for his House of Representatives seat since he won the seat in 2009.

Now, 36-year-old Northern California native Jessica Morse hopes to break that chain of defeated Democratic challengers.

One pathway to victory could be to debate McClintock at a town hall or local university but that pathway is piling up with mudslinging by both camps.

McClintock’s campaign manager Jon Huey sent an email to Gold Country Media that contained the debate invitation from McClintock on June 25.

“So far, the Morse campaign has not responded, nor has it accepted the first two debate invitations from the Mariposa Gazette and from William Jessup University, that McClintock has already agreed to,” Huey stated in the email.

“I have even spoke to the editor Greg Little (Mariposa Gazette) and he cannot seem to get acceptance from the Morse campaign,” Huey said. “He still has not heard from them since Tuesday of this week.” 

There is another side of the story, according to Morse’s deputy campaign manager Makaiah Mohler.

“Having participated in 16 debates and forums prior to the June primary that Congressman McClintock did not attend, Jessica looks forward to finally debating McClintock this fall,” Mohler said. “As soon as an agreement is reached, we look forward to announcing these events publicly so that voters have a chance to hear directly from both candidates.”

Those 16 debates and forums were meant for Morse’s Democratic primary opponent.

The McClintock campaign also emailed Morse’s campaign manager Kim Howard on June 25. The email said that the Mariposa Gazette editor invited both parties to debate in Mariposa and that William Jessup University also invited them (McClintock) to a Rocklin forum on Aug. 3. 

Morse campaign members said they have not received an invitation from William Jessup University for the Rocklin forum.

Gold Country Media asked the Morse campaign’s Mohler if they responded to the Mariposa Debate invitation.

“We have responded to the McClintock campaign and we are working on an agreement,” Mohler said.

However, when Gold Country Media asked to see the email response to McClintock, Mohler responded, “Again we have responded to that email but I don't think sending the response ‘really helps us.’ I don’t think I’ll be sending it to you guys.”  

As it stands now, neither Morse nor McClintock have agreed to a location or date for their first congressional debate.

Congressman Tom McClintock represents the 4th Congressional District including the counties of Alpine, Amador, Calaveras, El Dorado, Mariposa, Tuolumne, and portions of Fresno, Madera, Nevada and Placer.