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Thursday, May 26, 2016

Stewart asks for debates

Thursday, August 9, 2012

State Sen. Eric Stewart
U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais
State Sen. Eric Stewart of Winchester, a Democrat who is challenging incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais of South Pittsburg for DesJarlais' 4th District House seat, has repeated his call for a series of debates.

Stewart discussed the issue during a teleconference on Wednesday with reporters from the district.

DesJarlais' campaign had not responded by press time to a request for a statement.

Request made

Stewart's campaign issued a news release on election night last week asking DesJarlais to agree to three debates during August, while the U.S. House is out of session. On Tuesday, according to Stewart, the Stewart campaign sent both an e-mail and a registered letter to DesJarlais' campaign making a more formal request, and saying that the debates could be held in August and/or September if it's too short notice to organize them all in August.

"We know that they opened up the e-mail," said Stewart during Tuesday's teleconference.

For the past decade, Bedford County has been in the 6th District, currently represented by U.S. Rep. Diane Black, but redistricting which followed the 2010 U.S. Census has moved the county back into the 4th District effective with this election cycle. Both DesJarlais and Stewart are therefore new to local voters.

District changes

"I think that's all the more need for a debate," said Stewart. While some of the district's voters have been in Stewart's state Senate district or are carried over from DesJarlais' district, the redistricting was so dramatic -- bringing in populous Rutherford County, as well as Bedford -- that Stewart claimed a majority of the district's voters are new to both candidates. Stewart said polling data indicates that many voters aren't familiar with either himself or DesJarlais.

DesJarlais, who is finishing his first two-year term in Congress, is a physician, while Stewart is an insurance agent.

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