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And in other debating about debates…

Residents of Nampa this week are being treated to not one, but two town-hall meetings with candidates for the 1st District congressional seat – but the first one just had Democrat Walt Minnick, and the second will have just Republican incumbent Bill Sali.

Here’s how it happened: Back on May 28, Minnick called on Sali to join him in a series of 10 town-hall meetings throughout the district over the summer. The two have been wrangling about dates and have decided on only one, which is set for Aug. 18 in Coeur d’Alene. Minnick said he’d go on with his meetings even if Sali wouldn’t join him, though he’d rather he did. The first one of those was this past Monday in Nampa, at the Nampa Civic Center. Campaign spokesman John Foster said a “couple dozen” people came out for a “good hour and a half.” He said, “Voters considered it a success. It would’ve been a lot better had the congressman been there, because that was the whole point.”

Then on Tuesday, the Sali campaign contacted the Minnick campaign about a possible town-hall meeting in Nampa tomorrow, five days after Minnick’s event, and invited Minnick to participate. “Walt Minnick appreciates the invitation from Bill Sali,” campaign manager Adam Harris said. “However, Walt is riding in the Snake River Stampede horse parade during the town hall on Saturday. Unfortunately, Sali declined our invitation to join Walt in Nampa on Monday evening for a town hall, but we look forward to the two candidates joining together in the near future for a similar event.”

Wayne Hoffman, spokesman for Sali, said, “We’ve always done town-hall meetings, we’ve been doing town-hall meetings since last year.” However, tomorrow’s is the first that’s a campaign event, rather than an official congressional event, Hoffman said, so that allowed the invitation to Minnick. “They apparently picked a date that worked for them and not for us, and we apparently picked a date that works for us and not for them,” he said. Each camp blamed the other for the scheduling snafu, but both said they’re going to try to work together on future dates.

Hoffman said the Saturday forum was scheduled hastily because “the congressman was not going to be in Nampa this Saturday. His schedule changed, and now he’s in Nampa, and the very first thing we said we wanted to do with that additional time that he has is do one of the town-hall meetings.”


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Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

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