MARTINSBURG, W.Va. (WDVM) — With the November general election approaching in less than four months, candidate debates may help voters decide on how to cast their ballots.
For West Virginia offices, candidates are already making plans to present themselves side-by-side to voters. Democratic nominee for secretary of state, Natalie Tenant, was in the eastern panhandle to start the week and is calling for five debates with the incumbent she seeks to unseat, Mac Warner. She says there are clear differences on how each would manage absentee voting across the state and deliver business services during the pandemic.
“I believe debates are so important, especially in this race for secretary of state,” says Tenant. “I’m a former secretary of state. He’s secretary of state. We certainly have major differences. “
While out meeting Berkeley County voters, Daniel Bennett is seeking support in his bid for the West Virginia House of Delegates. With COVID-19 restrictions, retail politics has its limitations making debates, he says, all the more important.
“This is the most unusual election in American history,” says Bennett, “where, for the most part, candidates can’t meet the voters in person. These debates are going to be even more necessary.”
And according to Tenant, she believes debates are the perfect forum to remind voters of Secretary of State Warner’s wholesale firing of employees in her office when he replaced her after the 2016 election. It cost taxpayers, she says, $4 million in wrongful termination settlements.
The first Tenant-Warner debate will be late summer or early fall.
Tenant served as West Virginia secretay of state from 2009 to 2017.
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