A. Keith Carreiro, the Swansea Democrat trying to unseat Republican State Rep. Steven Howitt, is working to organize seven debates between the two candidates. But the Howitt campaign is not interested in doing even one debate, unless the event is organized by an independent, non-partisan entity.
Carreiro and Howitt are running for the state House seat representing the 4th Bristol District, which includes Seekonk, Rehoboth, Precincts 1 and 2 in Norton and Precincts 4 and 5 in Swansea.
"Our plan is to await a debate proposal sponsored and organized by a non-partisan civic group or media outlet," wrote Howitt campaign manager Peter Hoogerzeil in an email to Patch. "We did not ask the Carreiro campaign to do this work on our behalf. We look forward to sitting down with a sponsor to negotiate the terms and organization of such an event."
He sent the email in response to an inquiry from Patch about a letter the Carreiro campaign sent to Hoogerzeil and Howitt (and attached to a press release) that names several possible hosts for debates and notes what days and times Carreiro is available to participate.
"As the State House of Representatives has no formal sessions for the remainder of the election season, we hope the proposed days and times below provide ample opportunity for Representative Howitt to schedule seven debates," states the letter which is signed by Carreiro and his campaign manager Andrew McLeod.
The letter also thanks Howitt "for agreeing to a series of debates." Hoogerzeil told Patch this never happened.
"We have agreed to consider debate proposals at a one-on-one basis with non-partisan groups or media outlets who wish to both sponsor and organize a debate," Hoogerzeil wrote.