Politics

Democratic U.S. Sen. Gillibrand withdraws from Sunday's debate hosted by Spectrum, opponent responds

(WSYR-TV) - U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) decided to drop out of the Spectrum News debate which was originally scheduled for Sunday night.

In a statement, Gillibrand said she's withdrawing because she supports the members of IBEW (International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers) who recently went on strike for fair pay and benefits. Gillibrand said she will not participate in the debate unless the workers' strike including Charter Spectrum employees, is resolved.

Following Gillibrand's decision, the general consultant of her opponent's campaign, Chele Farley, released a statement explaining how Gillibrand initiated the debate back in July.

Kent Gates of the Farley Campaign went on to say, "After 6 p.m. on Friday, 48 hours before the only planned US Senate debate on Sunday evening October 21, 2018, Gillibrand sent out a statement backing out of the debate, citing an ongoing labor dispute that would require her to cross a 'de facto picket line.' Gillibrand had no problem crossing the same 'de facto picket line' on several occasions earlier this year when she appeared on Spectrum News programs. Gillibrand was interviewed by one of the debate moderators about gun control legislation. On March 11, 2018, she appeared on a show to talk about the women's movement," Gates said. "The most insulting part of the whole series of events is at no point did anyone from Gillibrand’s office reach out to the Farley campaign to notify us of the issue and discuss a viable solution."

Sen. Gillibrand's full statement regarding her decision to withdraw from Sunday's debate:

"I believe deeply that an open public debate is essential to democracy. That is why months ago I agreed to a statewide debate with Spectrum News/NY1 before the upcoming election.  However, I am also deeply committed to the working men and women of the labor community and support the 1,800 members of IBEW who went on strike for fair pay and benefits and I will not cross a de facto picket line scheduled for Sunday. That is why I will withdraw from participating in the Spectrum News/NY1 debate this Sunday unless the workers’ strike of Charter has been resolved.  It is my hope that Charter’s management will come to the table and agree to a fair resolution with the hardworking members of IBEW before then.  I remain willing and eager to debate on Sunday and hope this can be resolved in time to allow the debate to continue as scheduled.  If not, my campaign stands ready to debate Sunday night with a different media partner or will explore another date and venue to conduct a debate before the election.” – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand 


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