"Stosch Challenges opponent to debate Glen Allen, va, march 12, 2007:
Turning the tables on what is common political practice, Virginia Senate Majority Leader Walter A. Stosch (R-Henrico) has challenged his opponent, criminal defense lawyer Joseph
Blackburn, to a series of debates. The two will face off in a June 12 Primary Election to determine who will be the Republican nominee in the 12th Senatorial District which includes parts of Henrico, Goochland and Richmond.
In a letter to his opponent, Stosch said he has already agreed to two invitations, one from the Greater Richmond Chamber of Commerce and one from the James River Republican Women's Club. However, the 23-year legislative veteran writes he wants voters to have "every opportunity to judge our respective track records and credibility on the issues important to families and businesses."
Stosch also urges Blackburn to get behind the Republican transportation plan that Governor Tim Kaine has vowed to change. As Majority Leader he was one of six Republican negotiators who brokered the package that passed the House and Senate essentially as proposed.
J. Scott Leake, a spokesman for the Stosch campaign, said, "if Joe Blackburn does accept these and other invitations to debate, he will quickly discover that simplistic sound bites are no substitute for substance. Walter Stosch has played a major role in helping make Virginia the number one state in the nation by so many measures. His record of achievement will more than stand up to scrutiny."
Stosch was first elected to the House of Delegates in 1983 and to the Senate in 1991. He has been reelected without opposition ever since. Blackburn ran unsuccessfully for the House of Delegates in 2000, losing to future delegates John M. O'Bannon, III and William R. Janis.
UPDATE: Blackburn responds!
Thank you for your letter of today. Your campaign is not keeping you well informed. I received the debate invitation from the president of the James River Republican Women’s Club on February 23, 15 days ago, and emailed her that day accepting the invitation. Your delay in accepting that invitation concerned me that you may not want to discuss your legislative record. I am glad to see from your letter that you have now accepted the invitation to debate and that you agree that your legislative record is something the voters should consider in making their decision for whom they will vote.
I cannot understand why you only received today the invitation to appear jointly with me before the Richmond Chamber of Commerce. I received the invitation last Friday and immediately accepted.
Concerning the transportation issue, I note in the 2007 session of the General Assembly you reversed the position you held in the 2006 session. During that gridlocked session, you, your friend, John Chichester, and others maintained a need for a general tax increase, despite the fact we had a large surplus. My candidacy must have brought your ear closer to the wishes of the people causing you to rightfully oppose a general tax increase this year.
Very Truly Yours,
Joseph E. Blackburn, Jr."