Gary Peters’ efforts to schedule a debate with Terri Lynn Land in the race for the open U.S. Senate seat in Michigan continue to be a dead end. This morning we got more proof that her claim that she’s “interested” in a debate with Peters is nothing more than a lie designed to distract the media from her real aim of avoiding a debate at all costs. Here’s what transpired in a radio show on Michigan’s Big Show with Michael Patrick Shiels:
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[00:00] MICHAEL PATRICK SHIELS: You’re listening to Michael Patrick Shiels through the AT&T microphones presented by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and Blue Care Network right across the street from the capitol here at Grand Traverse Pie Company, but radio stations all across the state of Michigan. MLive reporting this morning at U.S. Senate candidate Terri Lynn Land, who had kind of sidestepped the question previously, says she might be willing to participate in one televised debate with her opponent the Democrat Congressman Gary Peters for U.S. Senate. John Cherry, the former Lt. Gov. is on the other end of our AT&T line right this second. He is the debate negotiator for Gary Peters. Thank you for being available and welcome back to the program.
[00:38] JOHN CHERRY: It’s great to be with you, Michael Patrick.
[00:40] SHIELS: Do you take Terri Lynn Land at her word that she is interested in a debate and how are negotiations going?
[00:46] CHERRY: Well, there haven’t been any negotiations yet. I take her at her word, she said she might be interested, that also means she might not be interested. You know, I did get a call from Chuck Stokes from WXYZ yesterday saying that the Land campaign did have an interest and Chuck wanted to broker a meeting. The problem is that given XYZ’s schedule, there’s got to be some agreement in place by Saturday and I don’t even think that Dick McLellan is in the state at the present time. So, it’s one of those things that under the cover of darkness you go through this shuffle that is more avoidance than anything. But, who knows. Maybe something will happen. I mean, quite frankly, there ought to be public negotiations on this thing so that people can see exactly what’s going forward and where people are at, and how serious the respective candidates are about having a debate. You know, quite frankly, Michael Patrick you ought to host a public negotiation on it and let everybody see just where this thing’s at.
[01:57] SHIELS: Well, I’ll take your suggestion and do it right now. Richard McLellan is on the other end of our AT&T line with you.
[02:04] CHERRY: Great!
[02:05] SHIELS: This is the debate negotiator for Terri Lynn Land and the debate negotiator for Gary Peters and I’m going to step back and let you two do it publicly.
[02:12] CHERRY: Super! Richard, are you game?
[02:18] RICHARD MCLELLAN: I’m in New York, [?] I just woke up and I was listening in [inaudible 02:19 – 02:21] so I think that the Lt. Gov. has it right that I did talk to Chuck Stokes and when I come back from New York hopefully we can get together even this Friday and wrap this up fairly quickly.
[02:35] CHERRY: Are you saying you’re going to be back? I mean, Chuck tells me that he has to have this debate by the 27th of October; he’s got to have it in place 30 days in advance of that, which means that’s Saturday. So, I mean are you prepared to sit down on Saturday and work this out?
[02:53] MCLELLAN: I said, I told Chuck I’m coming back from New York on Friday morning and hopefully he was gong to call yesterday and see if people can get together Friday afternoon down at the station and look over the site and, you know, debates are a lot of details. You know, the type of the room, and there’s a lot that goes on. I’ve been involved in debate negotiations before and it doesn’t take forever but it does, you have to actually sit down in a room and I think that’s something we’re hoping to do as quickly as possible, I could even do it by phone I suppose, but we thought it would be better if we got together to do it face to face…
[03:37] CHERRY: Well our request was simple. It would just be a type of town hall format and have a panel of media types that can raise questions and give the audience a chance to ask questions and let both candidates get an opportunity to respond and counter-respond and let the public make a judgment about who they believe is well-suited to be their U.S. Senator.
[4:01] MCLELLAN: Well that’s one of the models that they have for debates and there is a lot of different models that work and I think we are going to go through what the pros and cons are of an approach and it needs to be acceptable to both candidates and to the media that will be carrying it so…
[4:23]: CHERRY: Are you saying a town hall setting is not acceptable to you?
[4:27] MCLELLAN: You know, debate on the radio, even though Michael Patrick is very thoughtful in letting us have this opportunity to talk, but we would, I’d rather sit down with the media and the two candidate negotiators and actually negotiate.
[4:46] SHIELS: Richard, if you could pick your format, and the length and that sort of thing, if you had your dream scenario as they say, what would, do you know what it would be at this point? Or-
McLELLAN: I think it would be a good debate where each of the candidates would have an opportunity to articulate their point of view on the important issues and people could help the voters make up their mind. So there’s a lot of different formats and I’m not prepared, as I said, to kind of go through the pros and cons this morning, we just don’t have time. But I think a good debate is one that has a good panel, it’s got the candidates that have enough time to answer the questions and help the people make up their mind.
[5:33] SHIELS: Are you optimistic, Richard, that you will be able to reach an agreement and have a U.S. Senate debate?
McLELLAN: Well I think that both candidates have expressed an interest and we have a media outfit that is interested in it, but it’s a matter of marrying because different people have different views on what is the best format and I think that we will have a discussion and we will, in all likelihood, if people want to have a debate, you come to a compromise and you, you work out the details of it, but I think that’s probably where we would end up. But I think, but like I said, I think both candidates have expressed an interest in it and so I’m just hopeful we can get together.
[6:20] SHIELS: Lt. Governor Cherry, you can get together, it sounds like maybe even this weekend huh?
CHERRY: Well, yeah. I mean I’m happy to you know, meet all day Saturday if that’s what it takes, but in the end, I think there has been more than one media outlet that’s expressed an interest, I mean, I think I’ve counted five to date. So I mean I think there’s plenty of opportunity to get one- one, two, three, four or five debates in.
[6:45] SHIELS: Well let’s hope we can get one anyway and we have the two negotiators talking. They were going to meet, going to get together. John Cherry, the former Lt. Governor, representing Gary Peters, Richard McLellan, very skilled super attorney representing Terri Lynn Land and it sounds like we’re off and running. Thank you gentlemen very much.
Obviously there is little reason to believe that Land will agree to a debate. Meanwhile, the Maddow Blog reports that Land is the only Senate candidate refusing to debate:
So who’s refusing? It looks like the “No Debate” Club has just two members: Terri Lynn Land, the Republican U.S. Senate candidate in Michigan who’s going out of her way to avoid potentially embarrassing interactions, and [Maine Gov. Paul] LePage.
And in close races, that’s it. That’s the club.
In other news, Think Progress revealed that “Murray Energy CEO Robert Murray, allegedly sent letters to his employees asking them to support pro-coal candidates for political office”:
Earlier this month, the United States’ largest independent coal company was slapped with a lawsuit by a former employee, claiming she was illegally fired for refusing to give money to political candidates chosen by her boss. That boss, Murray Energy CEO Robert Murray, allegedly sent letters to his employees asking them to support pro-coal candidates for political office, keeping track of who made the requested contributions and who didn’t. Employees of Murray Energy and its subsidiary companies were aware that failing to contribute could impact their jobs, the lawsuit claimed. […]
In the latest accusation of coercion against Murray, the former employee cited fundraising letters she received from Murray in late May of 2014. Those letters asked for contributions to four Republican candidates for U.S. Senate: Scott Brown from New Hampshire, Ed Gillespie from Virginia, Terri Lynn Land from Michigan, and Mike McFadden from Minnesota.
These are the sorts of “friends” Land pals around with.
Also, the Michigan Democratic Party is calling for an IRS investigation over a religious charity supported heavily by the Land family for promoting her candidacy in violation of of laws governing so-called non-profits. From the MDP’s press release:
The Michigan Democratic Party today called for an IRS investigation into Republican Terri Lynn Land using her family charity, World Mission, as an extension of her campaign. Democrats held a press conference outside the World Mission store in Lansing, where news reports show the charity trying to recruit supporters with Land’s campaign yard signs. As a tax-exempt organization, the IRS prohibits World Mission from advocating for candidates. MDP also sent the complaint to the Michigan Treasury, per an IRS suggestion.
Finally, after my report last week that Terri Lynn Land held stock in the same company, Total S.A., that she was bashing Gary Peters for having stock in, she attempted to quietly sell her stock. The Detroit News caught it, though:
Republican U.S. Senate candidate Terri Lynn Land has sold her shares in a mutual fund that invests in an oil company she has lambasted Democratic opponent Gary Peters for owning direct stock in.
Land’s divestment from Total SA came after a month of bashing Peters for owning stock in the French oil company that produces petroleum coke, an oil refining byproduct that the Democratic congressman opposed as a health risk when piles of it were previously stored near the Detroit River. The Land investment revelation prompted counter-charges of hypocrisy from Democrats.
“It’s stunningly hypocritical,” said Joe DiSano, a Democratic political consultant not working for Peters.
An independent political expert said the development could be a distraction.
“It’s a little curious that she would wait this long to divest because it takes away from her message,” said David Dulio, chairman of the political science department at Oakland University. “It could get her off message, and that’s never where a candidate wants to be.”
The hypocrisy here is that Land accepted millions of dollars of support from oil barons Charles and David Koch and she seems to have no problem with that. The divestment in Total S.A. seems makes her appear to be ashamed of profiting from Big Oil but her rhetoric and other actions show the opposite. These mixed messages are part and parcel of her failed campaign.
There isn’t a race in the USA right now that is imploding so spectacularly as the campaign of Terri Lynn Land. It’s a clear indication that corporatist support of candidates is becoming a detriment to candidates. Land clearly believed she’d be able to rely on her corporate backers to ensure a victory. Instead, that approach has only served to focus more attention on the efforts of corporate America to turn our country into a corporatocracy, something voters are rejecting in a profound way.
It’s enough to give you hope in our sacred democracy.