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Kelly, Bost go back and forth over debate plans

  • Mike Bost, left, and Brendan Kelly

    Mike Bost, left, and Brendan Kelly

updated: 9/12/2018 2:33 PM

A debate may be in the offing between 12th District Congressman Mike Bost of Murphysboro and his Democratic challenger, St. Clair County State's Attorney Brendan Kelly.

Kelly's campaign sent out a media packet this week, saying he has offered to arrange and pay for three town halls with Bost, to be held across the district. Their statement says Bost has not responded.

Bost, meanwhile, indicated to this newspaper via email that his campaign in fact is "in discussions" to set up a debate that would be moderated by respected news media from within the 12th District.

The 12th Congressional District race is considered by political observers to be a close contest. Bost was elected to the seat in 2014.

Kelly's packet contained a redacted letter to Bost signed by Kelly, in which Kelly suggested three town halls that would follow the parameters outlined by the Paul Simon Institute.

The Simon Institute report, published in July, says town halls "can be productive and valuable for policymakers and the public," but require "the commitment of all who participate to be professional, civil and respectful."

While it didn't directly reject Kelly's offer, Bost's prepared statement scoffed.

"It's a far leap to believe our opponent wants a fair debate when he's publicly allied himself with the liberal activists who literally wrote the book on how to disrupt town halls," it reads.

The statement added that Bost has "conducted countless town halls, telephone town halls, public forums, roundtables and small group meetings" during his first term.

Bost won the March Republican primary with 83.5 percent of the vote; Kelly won the Democratic primary with 80.9 percent.

Also running is Green Party candidate Randall Auxier.

Illinois has 18 House seats. Eleven of those are held by Democrats and seven by Republicans.