Press-Republican

Local News

October 28, 2009

No fireworks in Congressional debate

Staff Writer

PLATTSBURGH — Two of the three candidates running for the 23rd Congressional District spent about 75 minutes fielding questions on a myriad of issues at a forum Wednesday night.

But the biggest news from the event might have been the one candidate who did not show up.

Douglas Hoffman, the Conservative Party candidate, was in Plattsburgh on Wednesday but didn't attend the forum in E. Glenn Giltz Auditorium at Plattsburgh State.

Republican Dierdre "Dede" Scozzafava and Democrat William Owens both participated, before a crowd of about 400 people.

BIG MEDIA DRAW

The forum was hosted by the Plattsburgh Chapter of United University Professions, the Plattsburgh State Student Association and the Plattsburgh Area League of Women Voters.

It was covered by about a dozen media outlets from local, regional and national operations.

One of them was North Country Public Radio, whose Adirondack Bureau chief, Brian Mann, served as one of the moderators. Mann said he spoke with Hoffman and his campaign team on several occasions, trying to convince them to appear.

Mann said Hoffman apologized for not appearing but offered no explanation.

But Rob Ryan, Hoffman's campaign spokesman, made comments to the Press-Republican about 30 minutes before the event that suggested North Country Public Radio's involvement was the reason Hoffman did not attend.

"North Country Public Radio is the perfect venue to decide who is the most liberal candidate in the race," Ryan said, adding that Hoffman would participate in a televised debate in Syracuse today.

"And he will win that debate," Ryan said.

Ryan's comments angered Mann, who said he gave Hoffman every opportunity to attend the forum, even offering to alter the format if necessary.

"It's not just North Country Public Radio that is covering this. There are a dozen other outlets airing this, and to suggest that he was scared off because it was North Country Public Radio is ludicrous," Mann said.

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