Banks, Tritch agree to debates
Republican U.S. Rep. Jim Banks and Democratic challenger Courtney Tritch will meet for at least two televised debates ahead of the Nov. 6 general election.
WANE announced Friday morning that it will conduct an hourlong debate between the candidates in northeast Indiana’s 3rd Congressional District beginning at 7 p.m. Nov. 2.
And Jonathan Shelley, news director for WPTA, told The Journal Gazette later Friday that the campaigns for Banks and Tritch have made commitments to participate in an hourlong debate starting at 7 p.m. Oct. 28 that will be broadcast by the station’s ABC21 channel.
The Banks and Tritch campaigns traded barbs over the studio setting of the WANE match.
David Myles, Tritch’s campaign manager, said in a statement that “it is disappointing that Rep. Banks refuses to face voters in a live audience, as has been the case for all WANE debates for over a decade. ... We look forward to discussing the issues that voters care about most such as affordable healthcare, strong public schools, and high-wage jobs.”
Asked to respond, Steve Justus, Banks’ campaign manager, said in an email: “Congressman Banks has agreed to have a substantive debate on issues relevant to voters in northeast Indiana in front of a live television audience absent the political antics commonly employed by the Tritch campaign. Ms. Tritch has built her campaign on calling for debates, and true to his word Congressman Banks has agreed to contrast his conservative record with her liberal activism.”
The WPTA debate also will be conducted in a studio without an audience.
“The campaigns have different ideas on the preferred format,” Shelley said. “We put several options on the table and have been talking to (campaign) representatives for weeks.”
Moderators for the WPTA debate will be station news anchor Brien McElhatten and Kayla Blakeslee, news director for radio station WOWO. Moderators for the WANE debate will be NewsChannel 15 anchors Dirk Rowley and Terra Brantley.
Banks, a former state senator and commercial real estate broker from Columbia City, was elected to northeast Indiana’s seat in the U.S. House in 2016. Fort Wayne resident Tritch is a marketing consultant. Republicans have represented the 3rd District continuously since 1995.