UPDATE (6:25): Van Hollen spokeswoman Bridgett Frey said the Congressman will look to participate in a debate with his Republican challenger before election day (Nov. 6).
“Congress is in session right now, and Mr. Van Hollen is focused on his work for Maryland’s Eighth District. There will be an opportunity to debate before the election,” Frey said.
The House of Representatives is in session through the end of this week, then again for the first week of October, leaving a month before the General Election.
Ken Timmerman, Republican candidate for Congress in Maryland’s redrawn 8th District, says incumbent Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D) is “trying to duck debates,” as their Congressional race heats up.
Timmerman, a Kensington reporter and author on defense and intelligence issues, says he hand-delivered a letter to Van Hollen at Monday’s Great Frederick Fair challenging him to a debate.
The new 8th District, which still includes Bethesda and the downcounty area, now covers large swaths of rural Carroll and Frederick Counties, traditionally conservative constituencies. Van Hollen, also a Kensington resident, this week began to make his pitch to those voters with a series of events.
Few believe the five-term incumbent and visible Democratic Party leader is in danger of losing the election.
Van Hollen, a former Chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, spoke at this month’s Democratic National Convention and is seen by many as a natural foil to GOP Vice Presidential pick Rep. Paul Ryan. Van Hollen will play Ryan, his Budget Committee foe, in Vice President Joe Biden’s debate preparations.
Timmerman sent an email to supporters on Tuesday night questioning whether Van Hollen would accept his debate challenge:
I think we have a duty to inform our voters of our views and our positions on issues of tremendous importance to them. Why is Chris Van Jobless trying to duck debates?
…On Friday, Sept. 21, we have a debate scheduled in Frederick in the early afternoon (will my opponent show up??)
Timmerman will be on WMAL’s Chris Plante show from 11 a.m. until noon tomorrow.