Joining A Growing Number Of Incumbents, Rep. Issa Refuses To Debate His Opponent This Year

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) is fully embracing his role as the Ranking Member of the House Oversight Committee, eager to “subpoena the rats and cockroaches” in his crusade to impeach President Obama. While relishing his “duties” as a Oversight Committee member, there is one civic responsibility the five-term incumbent is dodging: the duty to debate.

According to the North County Times, Issa is now “refusing to debate his Democratic opponent” Howard Katz (D-CA), after personally agreeing to do so “when the two chatted at a July 3 parade” in Oceanside, CA. Katz contends that Issa said he’d “certainly” debate him “on a date that works with my schedule so I can come.” But now, Issa’s spokesman Kurt Bardella insists that “the topic of debate never came up” and, “because the economy is a free fall,” his job in “continuing the process of oversight” outweighs is responsibility to participate in a debate:

“I was asking him about a debate and he said, ‘Certainly, just make it on a date that works with my schedule so I can come,’” said Katz, a Temecula resident.

Bardella denied that Issa, R-Vista, ever agreed to debate whether he should continue to represent the district that includes much of North County and Southwest Riverside County.

“The topic of a debate never came up,” Bardella said Tuesday. “He (Issa) has never made any kind of promise or commitment to debate.”[…]

Bardella said Issa is concentrating on his role as the ranking Republican on the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, a powerful panel he will lead if the GOP wins enough seats on Nov. 2 to wrest control of the House from the Democrats.

“This is a situation where the economy is in a free fall and the people are in a free fall,” Bardella said. “The congressman is focused on doing his job and continuing the process of conducting oversight.”

Katz insists that Bardella is telling a “fib” and even released a picture of the two talking at the parade “where he swears the promise was made.” Katz needed the debate because he is in a “’David versus Goliath’ matchup” against “one of the wealthiest members of Congress.” Libertarian candidate Mike Paster (CA) shares Katz’s debate frustrations after “he was unsuccessful in repeated efforts to get someone from Issa’s office to respond to his call for a debate” last week.


While Issa may have specific reasons to be wary of public scrutiny, his debate denial reflects a growing number of House candidates “who are flat-out refusing” to debate challengers. Rep. Steve King (R-IA), who has never formally debated a Democratic challenger, told his opponent that he hadn’t “earned” the right to debate him. And while Rep. Roy Blunt (R-MO) is willing to debate his opponent, he is backing out of all but two of the debates he originally proposed.