At least five debates are tentatively scheduled for the governor candidates this fall, although Gov. Susana Martinez’s campaign has confirmed plans to participate in just one – a lunch meeting of commercial real estate developers.
Martinez, a Republican, and Democratic gubernatorial nominee Gary King have been invited to participate in debates or candidate forums hosted by KOAT-TV and the Albuquerque Journal, KNME-TV, the New Mexico Press Association, the NAIOP commercial real estate development association and Congregation Albert in Albuquerque.
The five events are scheduled for September and October.
King’s campaign has agreed to participate in all five events, said King campaign manager Keith Breitbach.
Martinez’s campaign has agreed only to attend the NAIOP candidate forum, according to the five debate organizers. Apparently, the campaign is considering more debates.
“We just scheduled our first debate (NAIOP), and we look forward to additional debates as the election draws nearer,” Martinez campaign spokesman Chris Sanchez said in a statement.
The NAIOP forum is scheduled for Sept. 22 at the Albuquerque Marriott during the group’s monthly lunch meeting. NAIOP organizers said all questions asked of the candidates will relate to the real estate industry.
Organizers of the other events said they sent formal invitations to their debates, some with RSVP deadlines that passed last month, but heard no response from the Martinez campaign.
“We’ve never had a candidate ignore us,” said Congregation Albert debate organizer Jeffrey Paul. “I’m absolutely surprised and frustrated by it.”
Gov. Bill Richardson did not participate in any debates during his 2006 re-election bid. Richardson, however, formally declined the congregation’s debate invitation, Paul said.
Congregation Albert will allow King to appear alone if Martinez doesn’t participate, Paul said.
Some other debate organizers said they still are deciding whether their events will go forward without Martinez.