By Jimmy Orr, Editor, Cowboy State Daily
An upcoming debate between U.S. House candidates will be a private affair, closed to the public and media, according to Wyoming PBS officials.
The public and the media will not be invited to attend because of “safety concerns,” the general manager of Wyoming PBS told Cowboy State Daily on Friday.
“To ensure the safety of the candidates, the debate is closed to the public and the press,” Terry Dugas said.
When asked to clarify if he thought the media would endanger the candidates, he repeated his statement.
“If the decision is made to allow press with proper identification, we’ll let you know,” Dugas said, mentioning that it will be reviewed with a “security team” next week but would not detail what security team he was referencing.
Harriet Hageman’s campaign manager told Cowboy State Daily that the Hageman campaign would prefer the debate remain open.
“We would prefer that the debate be more open, but these were the rules as presented to us. We did not make these demands or any others,” Miller said.
Anthony Bouchard, another candidate for the House, said he too wanted the debate open.
“I would prefer the forum to be open to the public. You can thank Cheney for the closed forum,” he wrote on Facebook.
In a press release distributed late Friday, the taxpayer-funded organization announced the time and date of the debate but did not mention it was closed to access from the public.
It did detail the format of the debate mentioning that it would last 60 minutes and would follow a question-and-answer format, with a short ‘lightning round’ of quick-response topics.
The moderator of the debate will be Craig Blumenshine. Panelists will include Wyoming PBS Producer Steve Peck; Wyoming Public Radio news director Bob Beck, and Sheridan Press reporter Stephen Dow.
All five of the Republican candidates seeking the GOP’s nomination to Wyoming’s lone House seat, including incumbent U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney, have been invited to the debate. Others invited include Harriet Hageman of Cheyenne Sen. Anthony Bouchard of Cheyenne, Robyn Belinskey of Sheridan and Denton Knapp of Gillette.
Wyoming Public Media did not announce which candidates had accepted the invitation.
The debate is to air at 7 p.m. on Thursday.