HARRISBURG, Pa. — A debate between Republican governor nominee Doug Mastriano and Democratic governor nominee and current Attorney General Josh Shapiro may not happen anytime soon.
The Mastriano campaign issued a public debate proposal to AG Shapiro on Friday, Sept. 9. The proposal outlined a debate scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 22.
In an initial challenge, reportedly sent to the Shapiro campaign on Aug. 16, Mastriano's campaign proposed two "open media" debates co-sponsored by each team.
In the follow-up proposal, Mastriano announced his moderator of choice: Mercedes Schlapp, a conservative political commentator who currently works at the Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC) Foundation. She formerly worked for the administrations of presidents George W. Bush and Donald Trump, as well as advised Trump's 2020 campaign.
Mastriano proposed the debate at The Penn Harris Hotel in Camp Hill.
"If you’re up for a fair debate," Mastriano wrote. "We have begun the planning process for you to meet me at Penn Harris [Hotel]."
However, a spokesman for Shapiro released a statement declining the debate offer.
Will Simons with the Shapiro campaign wrote, "Doug Mastriano has spent his entire campaign refusing to answer questions, and this unserious stunt is just another attempt to avoid answering for his extreme agenda."
“If Mastriano ever finds the will to step up and answer questions from legitimate reporters and independent moderators – instead of out-of-state partisan hacks – our campaign looks forward to discussing debate options," Williams continued in the statement. "In the meantime, Josh Shapiro will continue taking questions from the press and the people of Pennsylvania every day as he travels our Commonwealth.”
The Shapiro campaign outlined reported incidents of Mastriano evading or avoiding media questions in their response as well.
Mastriano has said he would not participate in traditional debates run by independent news organizations because of what he called their "hidden partisan agenda."