GOP governor's debate cancelled after several candidates drop out

Published: Jul. 16, 2018 at 5:16 PM EDT
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A spokesperson for the Tennessee Republican party announced today the debate between the Republican governor candidates for Sunday has been cancelled.

The announcement comes after three of the four candidates — Diane Black, Randy Boyd and Beth Harwell — announced plans to drop out of the debate. The fourth candidate, Bill Lee, still plans to be in attendance.

A spokesperson for Diane Black sent the following statement: "Due to the withdrawal of the other two major candidates, our campaign will not be attending Sunday night's debate."

“Randy is the only candidate who has participated in all 18 candidate debates and forums - and it's pretty clear where all of the candidates stand on the issues," a spokesperson for Randy Boyd's campaign said. "So we decided at this stage of the race, we would rather have Randy out talking directly to primary voters now that early voting is actually underway. But we look forward to doing more forums in the fall."

"Speaker Harwell has participated in many forums and debates over the past several months, and was committed to debating the important issues facing Tennessee one last time before the Aug. 2 Republican Primary, if all candidates participated. That no longer appears to be the case," Harwell's spokeswoman Beth Fortune said. "If that should change, Speaker Harwell will gladly participate in the debate."

The fourth candidate, Bill Lee, still plans to be present and hold a town hall event instead.

“When we committed to this series of debates several months ago, we were glad to see that all three Grand Divisions were represented and included. It is unfortunate that the East Tennessee debate in Knoxville is being cancelled. Bill plans on being there no matter what on July 22," Lee spokesman Chris Walker said. "Since the other candidates decided they would rather be elsewhere, we will still hold a town hall event at the debate site instead on the same day.”