Calling his Republican opponent “contemptuous” of the electoral process in the race for the 4th Congressional District, Democrat Harry Perkinson is seeking more debates between himself and state Rep. Scott Perry, R-Dillsburg.
Perkinson said the two have only squared off in two debates open to the public, and Perry was late for both.
But Perry campaign manager Tony Gray countered that Perkinson, an engineer who's a political newcomer, is only complaining “so he can get his name out there.”
And Perry said he's “a little affronted” by Perkinson's assertion that he's trying to keep as quiet as possible until the election.
The argument: Perry was late for two September debates, missing about half of the event hosted by the 912 Patriots and turning out late to a second at the York Jewish Community Center.
After the first event, Perry said he was in Washington, D.C., on a research mission with representatives from the paper industry.
Gray said he had told organizers Perry was going to be late when Perry agreed to attend. He said Perry was only late to the JCC debate because he was attending a veterans event in Gettysburg and got stuck in traffic.
But Perkinson said Perry is avoiding other events, including a Rotary Club of York debate on Wednesday, a forum that was to be hosted by the York County Library System on Oct. 23 but has since been canceled, and a meet-and-greet Nov. 1 at York College. Organizers were hoping to turn the last event into a debate but aborted because Perry didn't plan to attend.
“My opinion is that ... he's keeping his mouth shut and playing defense and hoping that will win the election,” Perkinson said. “He's being somewhat contemptuous of the process by doing that because he's not allowing the voters to see who he is and what his positions are. It's like, ‘Just trust me. We'll tell you after you buy the package.'”
Perkinson said it seems Perry is trying to “ride” into the congressional seat by relying on the Republican registration in the district.
Other candidates: Perkinson isn't alone in his criticism; when reached for comment, Libertarian Mike Koffenberger said he was in the process of drafting a press release asking where Perry has been.
“I think he's probably being told by his campaign officials ... that the less exposure any of us has, the better,” Koffenberger said. “He knows we're not going to be doing radio and television ads, so it's his way of minimizing our exposure to the voters before the election.”
Independent Wayne Wolff, the fourth and final candidate in the race, said he would also like more debates but can't speak to the potential reasons for Perry's absence.
Duty: Perry said he was planning to attend the Rotary event, but the date chosen ended up being the same day as his required military service. A colonel, he is commander of the Fort Indiantown Gap National Guard Training Facility.
Perry said he won't “garner any special privileges” to be relieved of his duty to attend a debate.
“I imagine Mr. Perkinson would like to have a debate every single day of the week so he could raise any awareness of his campaign,” Perry said.
He said he has numerous town halls and other events scheduled, including at least two upcoming debates — one on a local radio station and a second sponsored by the American Association of University Women in Gettysburg.
“There's not a lot on my schedule just sitting there waiting for someone to fill it,” Perry said, adding that he's “a little affronted by any assertion that I'm quiet or avoiding answering any questions.”
— Reach Christina Kauffman at firstname.lastname@example.org.