By Ed Martin, Editor
Candidate TJ Cox
Candidate TJ Cox

Democratic challenger TJ Cox, a candidate for the 21st Congressional District, has challenged the incumbent candidate, Rep. David Valadao, to at least three public debatesbut will settle for at least two, as long as one of them is in Lemoore or Sanger and is open to the public.

According to Cox, Valadao wants to deny the public a chance to attend any debates. Cox wants at least one of the publicly-attended debates to be broadcast live from Lemoore.

In a compromise, the Cox campaign says it will attend Valadao's closed-door, studio debate on October 25 with KSEE24/KGET-TV if he agrees to an open, public forum.

The Leader contacted Valadao’s campaign for his response and did not receive a response.

The Cox campaign is proposing the following: A public debate in Lemoore or Sanger during the week of October 15, shortly after voters receive their vote-by-mail ballots. The Cox campaign says that local stations KMPH Fox 26-TV, and KBAK-TV (Bakersfield), have reached out to both campaigns offering to conduct and broadcast this event. 

“This is one of the most important elections in the history of our country, and David Valadao refuses to show up in public to debate the issues facing our Valley,” said Cox, who appears to have mounted a strong campaign to replace Valadao. "Our communities need leaders who aren't afraid to debate and who will truly fight for the Valley.”

Rep. David Valadao
Rep. David Valadao

“Perhaps Valadao is afraid to show up because he has voted for Donald Trump’s agenda 99 percent of the time,” said Cox campaign spokesperson, Phillip Vander Klay.

The TJ Cox campaign looks forward to a response from the Valadao campaign and is eager to work with KMPH/KBAK and KSEE24/KGET-TV respectively to assure fair, impartial debates.

Initially, Valadao called for two televised debates, both for Oct. 25, the first to be in English and airing on KGET 17 and KSEE 24, the second, a Spanish language debate, on Telemundo. Neither would be open to the public.

Cox immediately responded suggesting instead a pair of 60-minute debates, open to the public and televised from Delano or Lemoore at West Hills College.

The Hanford Republican has not held a town hall meeting during the last two years. His most recent effort to connect with voters was in March of 2017 when he hosted what he referred to as his “Hometown Huddle,” where on March 6, 2017, he met with constituents on a first-come, first serve basis. Each voter got 10 minutes of the congressman’s time.