Democratic congressional challenger DuWayne Gregory is calling out Rep. Peter King for not attending debates and candidate forums — a response to King’s criticism that Gregory isn’t talking about issues.
Gregory, the Suffolk County Legislature’s presiding officer, wrote a letter Friday to King (R-Seaford), taking issue with King’s comments this month after Gregory tried to tie him to GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump.
“He should be laying out his agenda, saying the things he disagrees with me on,” King had said in response to Gregory’s Trump-related news conference.
Gregory wrote: “In fact, it is you who have made it a point throughout this campaign cycle to avoid any and all occasions where you might be called upon to debate me and defend your record in a public forum.”
As the underdog in the 2nd Congressional District race, Gregory has relied on invitations from various civic groups to get his message out.
He said there have been eight forums or debates in recent weeks that he has attended and King has not, as well as Newsday’s editorial board endorsement interview.
Well-known incumbents not running in competitive races traditionally limit such appearances. But Gregory said King’s “refusal to debate me is emblematic of a culture of politicians who don’t feel they have to be held accountable.”
King, a frequent guest on cable news broadcasts, said in response to Gregory’s letter that the invitations came very late in the campaign this year, after his schedule was already full.
“I’m not trying to avoid anyone. I’m always around, always on television,” King said.
King also noted that News 12 Long Island did not schedule a televised debate for his race this year, and that he has not accepted Newsday’s editorial board invitations since 2006, when he had a dispute with the board.
Gregory’s letter included a challenge to a debate in the final weeks of the campaign: “Give the voters a fair chance to hear us both so they can make up their minds based on answers to questions they themselves pose.”
King said it’s unlikely he’ll be able to fit anything in during the final two weeks of a campaign.
“Every minute is accounted for,” he said.