Indiana Election 2011 | Indiana Public Broadcasting Stations

Rokita Won’t Attend Ellettsville Debate Despite Talk With Sanders

Officials with Todd Rokita's congressional campaign have confirmed he will not attend an August 10 debate, despite an earlier conversation with David Sanders.

David Sanders

Photo: Bill Shaw

4th District candidate David Sanders says an earlier conversation with Todd Rokita indicated the Secretary of State would debate when asked.

Officials with Todd Rokita’s congressional campaign have confirmed the Secretary of State will not attend an August 10 debate in Ellettsville. But Rokita’s opponent in the 4th District race says declining the debate may contradict an earlier conversation between the two men.

When David Sanders and Rokita were still preparing for their respective primary elections, Sanders said he went to the Statehouse and had a conversation with the man he assumed he’d be facing in November’s election and asked him a question.

“Will you be willing to participate in debates,” Sanders said he asked the Secretary of State. “And he said ‘Absolutely. I’m Secretary of State, I’m in charge of elections in this state. I will absolutely participate in any debates to which I’m invited.’ I believe he’s a man of his word.”

But Rokita campaign spokesman Mike Sullivan said his candidate will only take part in debates run by outside groups, not those like the one in Ellettsville which are organized by the candidates themselves.

“They do it every year, they organize them well, they’re well attended,” Sullivan said of the independently organized debates. “And why should we take that away from those organizations?”

Both Rokita and Sanders have agreed to debate in Hendricks County on October 5. The August 10th debate at the Ellettsville branch of the Monroe County Public Library is slated to feature Sanders and Libertarian candidate John Duncan.