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On debating: Shank says yes, Munson says no

August 27, 2010|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

The two candidates in a local state Senate primary disagree on whether they should face off in a debate.

Del. Christopher B. Shank said he wants to debate state Sen. Donald F. Munson.

"I'm willing and ready to go, any time and place," Shank said.

Munson isn't interested.

He countered: "Shank has nothing to debate. In the last four years, he's had the worst record in the General Assembly."

Munson is running for a sixth term in the Senate. Shank, a three-term delegate, is challenging him in the Sept. 14 Republican primary.

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Ryan Miner, who follows and comments on local politics, recently raised the possibility of a debate.

On Facebook and in a letter to the editor in Friday's Herald-Mail, Miner proposed "a moderated 90-minute public debate, held at a neutral venue, with 20 (publicly) submitted questions on the most pressing local and state issues."

He suggested finishing with 15 minutes of question-and-answer time with the audience. The debate could be broadcast on cable TV, the radio and the Internet, and discussions could be held through Facebook and Twitter, he said.

Munson and Shank are scheduled to appear together at a Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce forum on Sept. 8, but there are no debates planned.

Munson said he won't let Miner and his suggested debate set the course of his campaign.

"I wouldn't consider it. I had to fire him as my campaign manager because of inadequacies," Munson said Wednesday during an interview at the county Republican picnic.

Munson was referring to the abrupt end to Miner's work with his campaign in January. Munson had just learned Miner was convicted of simple assault and harassment in Pittsburgh in 2008 and was placed on two years of probation.

A few days earlier, when news of a comment Miner made in college about homosexuality resurfaced, Munson said he'd stick with Miner.

After Munson learned of the Pittsburgh convictions, Miner and Munson said Miner resigned as campaign manager and wrote a resignation letter.

Actually, Miner was fired, both men said Friday.

"I was trying to be kind to Ryan," Munson said about his earlier description that Miner had resigned.

"I was fired not for my inadequacies -- my work spoke for itself," Miner said Friday. "I was fired because Senator Munson, unfortunately, did not know how to handle that situation at the time."

Xanthy Munson-Hoover, Munson's daughter, took over as her father's campaign manager.

Shank said Wednesday that a debate with Munson would have been "a much-needed opportunity for both of us to present our views to the citizens of Washington County so that they can ... have an opportunity to evaluate our respective positions and make up their own minds about this race .... It's a shame that the senator is not willing to talk about these issues."

On Friday afternoon, Williamsport Mayor James G. McCleaf II called The Herald-Mail to say the town would be willing to host a debate at the Springfield Barn. He said it could seat at least 300 people.

McCleaf said he read Miner's letter to the editor and thought a debate was a good idea.

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