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Tuesday, August 07, 2018 1:00 am

Dates for debates yet to be decided

Banks, Tritch eager for televised events

BRIAN FRANCISCO | The Journal Gazette

Republican U.S. Rep. Jim Banks and Democratic challenger Courtney Tritch say they are eager to publicly debate each other. The trouble is they apparently cannot agree on the time and place.

Tritch called Monday for Banks to confirm by Aug. 15 the dates of four debates in northeast Indiana's 3rd Congressional District.

She said her campaign has been working for more than a month with broadcasters to schedule debates but that Banks' campaign has not committed to dates.

“We are now 92 days from Election Day, and we have no confirmed debate dates – 92 days. We are running out of time, and the people in this district deserve to know where their candidates stand,” Tritch said at a news conference at her Bluffton Road campaign headquarters.

“Because if Congressman Banks truly is focused on the issues as he says he is, then he should be open to debating his ideas in a public forum,” Tritch said, referring to comments Banks made last week at Garrett City Hall.

Banks said his campaign has been “trying to find dates and locations and iron out some of the details” with participating broadcasters.

“We'll nail down the dates as soon as we can,” he said in a telephone interview. 

“I look forward to debating Courtney Tritch because the contrast between her and I could not be more significant, and the debates will give us the opportunity to expose that even more,” Banks said.

He said debates would illustrate their differences on abortion rights, immigration policy and taxes. Banks said his “conservative values” reflect those of his constituents, and he called Tritch “the most liberal candidate ever nominated by Democrats” in the 3rd District.

Tritch earlier said Banks “is not addressing these issues that are most important to us, the voters, and I think that that's unacceptable.” She said those issues are rising health care costs, adequate funding for public schools and the availability of high-paying jobs.

“Voters in this district deserve to know exactly where their candidates stand, and hear it directly from their own mouths so that there is no misinterpretation,” said Tritch, a Fort Wayne marketing consultant.

A former state senator from Columbia City, Banks was first elected to Congress in 2016. Republican lawmakers have represented the 3rd District since 1995.

Banks' re-election bid was endorsed Monday by the political action committee for Indiana Farm Bureau.