Candidates spar over primary debate plans

Raimondo speaks to reporters. Photo by Tessa Roy, WPRO News


By Tessa Roy, WPRO News

Candidates for governor on all sides of the aisle are bashing Governor Gina Raimondo and Mayor Allan Fung for not agreeing to primary debates on any of Rhode Island’s major news stations.

Though she said this could change, Raimondo said there’s no plan yet for her to debate her Democratic opponents Matt Brown and Spencer Dickinson. Fung has signed on to only one debate with his Republican opponents Giovanni Feroce and House Minority Leader Patricia Morgan on a radio station outside of the Providence market.

Morgan criticized Fung during an interview with WPRO’s Matt Allen and doubled down in a later statement.

“If Fung doesn’t have the courage to tell people where he stands on issues now, he won’t have the testicular fortitude to stand up for them later after the election,” Morgan said. “His cowardly refusal to debate disqualifies him to be Governor.”

Feroce took to Twitter to call for a televised debate.

Independent candidate Joe Trillo also weighed in.

“Anyone who refuses to publicly debate their political opponents deserves to lose, because they’re not willing to do all the hard work necessary to show voters what they have to offer,” he said.

Brown has repeatedly challenged Raimondo to debates, but she told reporters it was “not necessarily” a good strategy to do so. She also called the notion that she’s afraid to debate “ridiculous.”

“I’m running against someone now who isn’t a credible candidate and every time he’s been given a forum, he hasn’t acted in good faith,” she said of Brown.

Raimondo also previously called Brown a liar. When asked to provide examples of what she claimed were his lies and why she believes he is not “credible,” she said she was “not going to stand here and review all of his lies that are negative to me, but I’ll leave that to you… I think that’s a wonderful job for a reporter and I would leave that to you.”

Brown hypothesized to WPRO’s Dan Yorke that poll numbers were behind Raimondo’s reasoning.

“I think the issue is that she’s spent all this money on all these ads trying to increase her support among Rhode Islanders, and her numbers and her support just haven’t moved,” he said.

WPRO has reached out to Fung’s campaign for comment.

Listen to the full conversations with Morgan, Trillo, Brown, and Dickinson below.

Listen to “Patricia Morgan – Demanding GOP Primary Debates” on Spreaker.

Listen to “Joe Trillo – Allan Fung and Gina Raimondo are Cowards for not debating” on Spreaker.

Listen to “Fmr. Secretary of State Matt Brown talks debates, education initiatives on Dan Yorke Show” on Spreaker.

Listen to “Spencer Dickinson talks debates, candidacy on Dan Yorke Show” on Spreaker.

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