By Tony Wittkowski | Business Reporter | The Herald-Palladium
Congress hopeful Paul Clements is challenging U.S. House Rep. Fred Upton to a handful of debates.
However, a campaign official for Upton, R-St. Joseph, said he already has a full schedule planned leading up to the Nov. 8 general election.
In a statement released Monday morning, Clements called on Upton to face him in four debates across the 6th District.
“Congressman Upton owes it to the people of this district to stand on stage and present his positions side-by-side with mine, so the citizens of this district can judge for themselves who can better represent them,” Clements said in his prepared statement.
Liz Garey, Upton’s campaign director, released a list of five candidate events in October. She said they worked with several organizations to set these up.
“I look forward to continuing to spread our message concentrated on issues that matter to folks here at home; new jobs, protecting our citizens, and working together to make Southwest Michigan a better place for everyone,” Upton said in a prepared statement.
Upton’s schedule includes the following events:
• The South Haven American Association of University Women candidate forum from 7-9 p.m. on Oct. 6 in the Listiak Auditorium at 600 Elkenburg St. in South Haven.
• A session with Gordon Evans of WMUK on Oct. 18 at the WMUK Public Radio station on the campus of Western Michigan University.
• A candidate forum hosted by WGVU on Oct. 20 at the WGVU studios on the campus of Grand Valley State University.
• A session of WNIT public television on Oct. 24 for their “Politically Speaking” series highlighting candidates’ positions on the issues. The show is scheduled to air Oct. 30.
• A debate hosted by WKZO radio from 9-10 a.m. on Nov. 3. The debate will be broadcast live on air from the WKZO studios in Kalamazoo.
Clements campaign manager Mike Szustak criticized Upton in a news release.
“If Congressman Upton doesn’t have the time or respect for his constituents to openly defend his positions, perhaps he does not deserve to be returned to Congress,” Szustak stated. “When you vote for the largest student loan increase in history and you write an energy bill that’s a giveaway to dirty energy companies … I wouldn’t want to have to defend that either.”
In 2014, Upton was scheduled to face Clements but cancelled a debate to be hosted by the League of Women Voters of Berrien/Cass Counties, deciding instead to return to Washington for a committee meeting on the unfolding Ebola crisis.
Garey said they’re excited about the schedule and look forward to a “positive, issues-focused campaign.”
“With Congress in session and voting all of September, it’s going to be busy,” Garey said. “But with this robust schedule – and Fred’s long-standing commitment to visiting, talking and listening to folks of all stripes in our community – we’re confident that Fred’s record of bipartisan successes will win out.”