First District congressional candidate Jim Hagedorn is calling out his Republican rival Aaron Miller for not accepting his invitation to a series of debates.
Last week, Hagedorn sent a letter to Miller with "a gentleman's invitation" to participate in multiple debates in the lead up to the Aug. 12 primary. The winner of that primary will take on four-term DFL Congressman Tim Walz in November.
In the letter, Hagedorn suggested the debates could be 75 to 90 minutes each and be held in three key regions in the district — the Rochester area, Mankato area and Worthington area. He suggested those debates could begin next week.
Since sending the letter, Hagedorn has not heard back from the Miller campaign. His campaign sent out an email to supporters Wednesday with the subject line "It's Time to Debate!" and a copy of the letter he sent to his opponent.
Miller campaign adviser Brad Biers said the campaign has no intention of responding to the letter. He said Miller has already debated Hagedorn on a number of occasions in the lead up to the First District Republicans' endorsing convention in April. Miller won the party's endorsement.
"We've debated three times plus presented our case at the convention," Biers said. "We're focused on the general election."
In an interview, Hagedorn said voters deserve the chance to see him and Miller debate before the primary.
"Debates help people fully understand the positions of the candidates. We're in a primary now, which is opened up to all voters in the district — not just the 275 delegates in the Republican party," Hagedorn said.
He added that several key issues have emerged over the past few months such as the growing violence in Iraq, immigration issues at the U.S. border and the Veterans Administration scandal. He added that the debates would help both candidates prepare to take on Walz.
Hagedorn added, "If the Miller campaign thinks their candidate isn't in a position to debate against me, I'm not sure how they think he's going to debate against Walz."