Politics & Government

McCarter challenges Shimkus to town hall debates

State Sen. Kyle McCarter has challenged incumbent U.S. Rep. John Shimkus to a series of town hall debates that have already been scheduled, but the longtime congressman’s campaign said it was not contacted.

McCarter, R-Lebanon, is holding a series of town halls in the 15th Congressional District whether or not Shimkus, R-Collinsville, attends, he said.

“The voters deserve to see us and hear us together, so they can look us in the eye, ask their questions, voice their concerns and get straightforward answers — no spin,” McCarter said. He challenged Shimkus to commit to “unfiltered and transparent” debates, adding that Shimkus could participate via Skype online chat if he was unavailable.

One debate will take place: Shimkus and McCarter are scheduled for a radio debate at noon on Saturday, March 12, on WKRV Radio, 107.1 FM, hosted by the Vandalia Chamber of Commerce. It can be heard live on www.vandaliaradio.com.

But Kayleen Carlson, Shimkus’ campaign manager, said their campaign was never contacted about the town hall forums and was never asked to participate.

“Congressman Shimkus is in Washington working on behalf of the families of the 15th Congressional District,” Carlson said. “For Sen. McCarter and his campaign to suggest that we were notified and engaged in scheduling these town halls is misleading and (untrue). The congressman looks forward to discussing the issues in the agreed-upon debate on March 12.”

The town halls will go on regardless, McCarter said. They will be held at 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 2, at the American Legion Post 210, 201 Prospect Place in Danville, and 7 p.m. Monday, March 7, at VFW Post 1769, 2304 S. Veterans Drive in Effingham. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. at each.

McCarter, whose state Senate district includes about half the 15th Congressional District, is challenging Shimkus in the Republican primary. McCarter has gone on the attack in recent weeks, calling Shimkus a “cushy careerist” and criticizing his vote for the 2015 omnibus spending bill.