Everybody remembers the "brain freeze heard 'round the world" when Governor Jan Brewer blanked for more than 13 seconds during her first televised debate with Democratic nominee Terry Goddard.
After her embarrassing performance, she and her handlers decided that the "first" debate would be the "only" debate.
Many other Republican candidates, looking at the poll numbers that indicated that 2010 was going to be a wave year for the Republicans, followed suit. There was no reason to risk a debate gaffe derailing an all-but-certain victory.
And for the most part, the plan worked (or at least, it didn't *not* work) - the 2010 wave swamped the US House, state legislatures, and governor's mansions coast-to-coast. After the 2010 elections, Republicans controlled the US House, became a large enough minority caucus in the US Senate so that they have been able to block pretty near every remotely positive measure, controlled all or part of 35 state legislatures, and controlled 29 governor's offices.
Fast-forward to 2012 and while it is shaping up to be a far more balanced year, yet many Republicans are campaigning like it's 2010 all over again.
In Arizona, both Republican Senate nominee Jeff Flake and CD9 nominee Vernon Parker are playing the "run and hide" card for all it's worth.
Flake has declined to publicly debate Richard Carmona, the Democratic nominee (though to be fair, per the linked article, he has agreed to a debate with Carmona, in a TV studio with no live audience, for 30 minutes only).
Parker is just ignoring Kyrsten Sinema, the Democratic nominee, and the voters in the new Ninth Congressional District. He simply has not responded to debate inquiries.
In 2012, Flake and Parker, and certain other Republicans, are still running from their 2010 playbook, which had a primary theme of "Keep your head down and your mouth closed. If you don't screw up, you'll win."
In 2010, that scheme worked in nearly all but the most heavily Democratic districts.
In 2012, the situations and districts here are much more competitive and the "bunker" mentality and approach isn't going to work for any candidate.
Having said all that, there are candidates who legally *cannot* avoid at least some interaction with voters and the other candidates.
Clean Elections candidates must participate in a CE-sponsored debate as a condition of receiving funds from the Citizens Clean Elections Commission.
This looks to be the busiest week of the general election season in terms of Clean Elections debates.
- Monday, September 24, LD11 Senate and House, 6 p.m. at Pima Community College - Northwest Campus, 7600 N. Shannon Road in Tucson
- Tuesday, September 25, LD20 Senate and House, 6:30 p.m. at ASU West - La Sala Ballroom, 4701 W. Thunderbird Road in Glendale
- Tuesday, September 25, LD24 Senate and House, 5:30 p.m. at A.E. England Building (ASU Downtown campus), 424 N. Central Avenue in Phoenix
- Wednesday, September 26, LD14 Senate and House, 6 p.m. at Benson City Council Chambers, 120 W. 6th Street in Benson
- Thursday, September 27, LD16 Senate and House, 6:30 p.m. at ASU-Poly Cooley Ballroom B, 7001 E. Williams Field Road, Mesa
- Thursday, September 27, LD27 Senate and House, ASU-Mercado, Room C145, 502 E. Monroe Street in Phoenix