WESTERN PA —
Only incumbent Congressman Mike Kelly knows whether he’ll join an upcoming debate with his election opponents — and he’s not talking.
Kelly, a freshman Republican from Butler County, is seeking re-election to a second term to represent Pennsylvania’s Third Congressional District, which includes almost all of Crawford County. He faces challenges from Missa Eaton, a Democrat from Sharon, and Steven Porter, an independent candidate from Wattsburg.
Since early September, The Meadville Tribune and Allegheny College’s Center for Political Participation attempted to schedule a forum in Meadville with all three candidates on one of three dates in October, but Kelly’s campaign declined the invitation Sept. 7 with no reason given.
Allegheny College declined to continue to participate in the forum with only two of three candidates.
Kelly didn't respond to the newspaper's attempts to contact him for this story.
While the Eaton and Porter campaigns confirmed Tuesday their participation in a forum sponsored by the Meadville Tribune set for Oct. 10 with the location to be determined, the Kelly campaign did not.
An emailed response from Kelly campaign spokesman Josh Wilson to a Tribune reporter Monday night read: “Mr. Kelly will be campaigning aggressively throughout Northeast Pennsylvania this Fall, which includes a publicly televised debate with his opponents on WQLN.”
Pennsylvania’s Third Congressional District isn’t in northeast Pennsylvania, but northwest and western Pennsylvania. The Third Congressional District covers all or part of seven counties — Armstrong, Butler, Clarion, Crawford, Erie, Lawrence and Mercer.
Tom New, director of creative services for WQLN-TV of Erie Channel 54, confirmed Tuesday a debate between Kelly, Eaton and Porter is set to air Oct. 25 at 8 p.m. on the station. That debate won’t air live, but will be prerecorded on Oct. 24, New said. It also is scheduled to air Oct. 27 at 1 p.m. on WJET-TV of Erie, Channel 24, he said.
It wasn't clear Wednesday if Kelly had agreed to participate in a debate sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Mercer County that's being planned for mid-October