Alabama GOP: U.S. Senate debate unlikely, Durant won’t confirm participation

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WIAT) — Alabama’s primary election is just over a month away, and plans are in the works for a debate among the top three U.S. Senate candidates. But not all of them have agreed to participate.

Candidates Katie Britt and Mo Brooks are criticizing their opponent Mike Durant for his silence on whether he’ll participate in an AL GOP-sanctioned debate.

In a statement, Britt’s campaign spokesman Sean Ross said she would agree to a three-candidate debate, saying Durant’s silence is “leaving Alabamians to speculate as to what he’s hiding.”

Brooks’ campaign spokesman also said he’s committed to a debate.

Durant’s campaign did not respond to requests for comment.

Alabama Republican Party Chairman John Wahl said as of right now, it doesn’t look like a debate will happen. 

“Mo Brooks agreed to participate in the debate. Mike Durant does not look like he’s going to be able to, and Katie Britt has said that if Mike Durant can’t, she’s not interested in participating in the debate,” Wahl said.

When asked why Durant won’t be able to debate, Wahl said: “We heard back from them that they were thinking about it and looking into the details and then just kind of never heard more back.”

Wahl said he hoped the debate would be a resource for the candidates and the voters to learn more about their future Senator.

Political analyst Steve Flowers says Durant’s lack of public campaigning is unusual.

“I’ve never seen such a dramatic non-campaigning, non-interview, non-mingling with Alabamians campaign in my entire life of following Alabama politics, going on five decades now,” Flowers said.

But that lack of publicity hasn’t hurt him in the polls. In a recent Nexstar, the Hill and Emerson College poll, Durant is leading the pack at 33%.

“That must be the strategy — not debate, not talk, not meet any Alabamians. Not let anybody meet you or ask you any questions, because it’s obvious he doesn’t know the answer to them, how to be a Senator or any issues. He does know how to fly a helicopter, and he was captured as a POW and he has a lot of money, that’s the only thing we know about him,” Flowers said.

Wahl says the door is still open if the candidates all do agree to participate in a debate, and if so, it would likely happen in early to mid-May. 

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