Boyd drops out of last GOP gov­er­nor de­bate

Chattanooga Times Free Press - - POLITICAL NOTEBOOK -

NASHVILLE — Repub­li­can gu­ber­na­to­rial hope­ful Randy Boyd won’t par­tic­i­pate in Ten­nessee’s last tele­vised Repub­li­can gu­ber­na­to­rial de­bate be­fore the Aug. 2 pri­mary, ac­cord­ing to Ten­nessee-based af­fil­i­ates of Nexs­tar Me­dia Group, owner of TV broad­cast sta­tions in most of the state’s ma­jor me­dia mar­kets.

“Randy Boyd drops out of Repub­li­can gu­ber­na­to­rial de­bate,” tweeted Kristin Far­ley, news an­chor at Nexs­tar af­fil­i­ate WATE-TV in Knoxville where the July 22 de­bates were sched­uled to be held.

Dur­ing a cam­paign swing in Up­per East Ten­nessee, Boyd told Nexs­tar af­fil­i­ate WJHL-TV in John­son City “we just have a sched­ul­ing con­flict. I don’t do the sched­ule, so I can’t tell you when it came up. But we’ve had a sched­ul­ing con­flict.

“But again,” the Knoxville en­tre­pre­neur and for­mer state eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment com­mis­sioner added, “we’re the only can­di­date that’s done all 18 de­bates. And by the way, you know this last de­bate is go­ing to be al­most 10 days af­ter early vot­ing started so half the peo­ple have al­ready voted. So we’re go­ing to be out vis­it­ing with vot­ers and work­ing the crowds.”

Tracey Rogers, gen­eral man­ager at Nexs­tar af­fil­i­ate WKRN-TV said in an in­ter­view Fri­day af­ter­noon that “as of this mo­ment, the de­bate’s still on,” adding that Repub­li­cans U.S. Rep. Diane Black of Gal­latin, Ten­nessee House Speaker Beth Har­well and Franklin busi­ness­man Bill Lee had all pre­vi­ously con­firmed their at­ten­dance.

Asked ear­lier Fri­day whether she would be in the de­bate as she pre­pared to go vote near her Gal­latin home in Mid­dle Ten­nessee, Black told re­porters “we have it on our cal­en­dar.”

In a brief email, Chris Walker, a Lee cam­paign aide, wrote, “Not sur­prised” re­gard­ing Boyd’s drop­ping out of the de­bate. “We’re in,” Walker added, “fully.”

Ef­forts to reach Har­well ad­viser Beth For­tune about the speaker’s de­bate par­tic­i­pa­tion were un­suc­cess­ful.

Boyd cam­paign CEO Chip Salts­man said in a state­ment that Boyd “is the only can­di­date who has par­tic­i­pated in all 18 can­di­date de­bates and fo­rums — and it’s pretty clear where all of the can­di­dates stand on the is­sues.

“So,” Salts­man added, “we de­cided at this stage of the race, we would rather have Randy out talk­ing di­rectly to pri­mary vot­ers now that early vot­ing is ac­tu­ally un­der­way. But we look for­ward to do­ing more fo­rums in the fall.”

At this junc­ture, all four Repub­li­cans are spend­ing heav­ily on tele­vi­sion, with Boyd and Black at­tack­ing each other. Lat­est polling shows a fairly tight race between Boyd and Black.

Nexs­tar al­ready has aired two se­ries of de­bates fea­tur­ing Repub­li­can as well as Demo­cratic can­di­dates for­mer Nashville Mayor Karl Dean and state House Mi­nor­ity Leader Craig Fitzhugh of Ri­p­ley in sep­a­rate set­tings.

In ad­di­tion to the planned Repub­li­can de­bate July 28 in Knoxville, Nexs­tar af­fil­i­ates have a de­bate between Dean and Fitzhugh.

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