MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — U.S. Senate candidate Katie Britt, who last month sharply criticized one opponent for not debating in the race, now indicated she will not debate opponent Rep. Mo Brooks ahead of the runoff election.
Her campaign said the congressman is seeking “a circus" instead of a debate. The Brooks camp accused Britt of “hiding.”
“Katie won’t participate in the final circus act of Mo’s career — she will continue to work tirelessly and travel to every corner of Alabama to share her conservative message, listen to Alabamians, and answer their questions," Britt spokesman Sean Ross said.
Britt and Brooks will face each other in the June 21 runoff that will decide the GOP nomination for the seat being vacated by retiring U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby. Britt, the former president of the Business Council of Alabama and Shelby's former chief of staff, led Brooks in the May 24 primary, but the race must go to a runoff because no candidate captured more than 50% of the initial vote.
Britt had sharply criticized Mike Durant, who finished third in the May 24 primary, for not accepting debate invitations ahead of the primary. At the time, the three candidates were considered to be in a tight race to decide which two would make the expected runoff.
Brooks accused Britt of being hypocritical after lobbing criticisms at Durant.
"Katie Britt’s debate refusal is an admission of profound weakness at a time America needs fighters in the U.S. Senate, not pushovers. As my record reflects, I am exactly the fighter America needs at this critical juncture in history," Brooks said in a statement.
The Alabama Republican Party is seeking to organize a debate ahead of the June 21 runoff. Chairman John Wahl said this week that the offer to the two candidates stands open, and that questions would come from GOP primary voters. Several media outlets had also sought to host a debate.
Asked about her past criticisms of Durant, Ross said Britt had been accessible to voters and had appeared at several forums with Brooks.
Kim Chandler, The Associated Press