Charlotte Republican mayoral candidate, John Lassiter, has surrendered. He’s thrown up his hands and is walking away from an opportunity to inform Charlotte voters about his experience and his vision for the city.
Lassiter doesn’t offer a prior professional, family or personal obligation as an excuse for missing the League of Women Voter’s televised debate. No, Lassiter has apparently decided he doesn’t want to have to face challenges to any statements he makes during the debate. He has pulled out over the number of rebuttals.
Of course, that should come as no surprise based on Lassiter’s past behavior and the way he is running his campaign. Over the past several weeks John Lassiter has failed to participate in pre-debate discussions with host organizations.
Directly prior to last week’s debate at Johnson C. Smith University, Lassiter contacted JCSU officials to complain about the format decided upon earlier and request they eliminate direct questions between he and Anthony Foxx. A few minutes before the debate was to start, Lassiter had a new complaint about the number of rebuttals allowed.
What could possibly have John Lassiter running so scared? Is he worried he won’t be able to think on his feet? Is he worried he will be challenged on his facts and won’t be able to respond truthfully?
All this drama could have been avoided if John Lassiter had bothered to attend or have his campaign manager attend a pre-debate meeting on September 18, with the League of Women Voters, WSOC and WTVI where they discussed the debate structure and guidelines. Foxx Press Secretary Jill Santuccio and Campaign Manager Bruce Clark attended the meeting for Foxx.
Anthony Foxx respects the service provided to the community by the debate hosts and stands ready to debate Lassiter.
The debate was to be hosted by WSOC, WTVI and the League of Women Voters. For more than 80 years the League of Women Voters has served communities all across this country and by all accounts is the gold standard for political debates in Charlotte.
The guidelines for this debate were made clear to both campaigns from the very beginning and reiterated at subsequent planning meetings. This is why, since day one, we have agreed to participate in the debate based on the rules and guidelines set forth by this community organization.
Anthony Foxx has no problem responding to questions or challenges based on statements or claims that he makes during the debate. He stands prepared to not only present his vision for Charlotte, but to defend it as well.
“We are fully prepared to move forward with this debate, even if it means Councilman Foxx has to debate an empty chair,” said Clark.
Honestly, an empty chair would provide a more responsive opponent.
Update: The Foxx campaign blog has a response here. They make an excellent point about Lassiter.
Leave aside the bad manners -- is this how John Lassiter would behave as mayor? The Charlotte mayor, in a weak-mayor form of government, has to be a diplomat, exerting influence through persuasion rather than force. It's the way this particular civic cookie crumbles. So if Lassiter doesn't get his way, his response is to take his ball and go home?