Tensions must be running high when a simple question to a legislative candidate gets such a clipped response.
"I had a print job that didn't go very well, and I had some problems with my financial reports," Kevin McGowan, District 19 candidate for House, said of why he wasn't able to attend the North End Neighborhood Association candidate forum on Monday night. "I'm actually trying to hand this stuff in now, so I think you have your answer, and I guess you're going to do what you're going to do," he said after further questioning. Click.
"I was very surprised that he wasn't there," said Brian Cronin, McGowan's opponent.
McGowan is also the president of NENA. Gary Reedy, NENA's vice president, said that the organization kept McGowan completely out of the loop in the forum planning process to prevent a conflict of interest.
"We made sure that he was not going to be participating in the actual conducting of the forum," Reedy said. "We do not endorse any candidates or any ballot positions. Our entire objective was to provide a neutral forum so that people in the North End could come out and hear their candidates for the state legislature and for the county commission."
Reedy said that about 45 people gathered to hear the candidates speak. All of the District 19 candidates were present except for McGowan and Democrat Anne Pasely-Stuart, who is running unopposed for 19's other House seat. The four county commission candidates and one ACHD candidate also attended.
"He had emailed beforehand but I hadn't checked that email," Reedy said about how McGowan alterted him that he would not be attending.
McGowan has criticized Cronin in the past for failing to show up to a candidate forum sponsored by the Collister Neighborhood Association, according to Cronin.
"I didn't even know about it until after the fact," Cronin said. He said that Joan Wallace, one of the event's organizers, later called and apologized for not inviting him, saying that she didn't expect McGowan to show up because only a few dozen houses in the Collister area belong to District 19.
Cronin jabbed back at McGowan on his blog, saying that Republicans were conspicuously absent from the Sept. 18 forum sponsored by the Idaho Women's Network, the Snake River Alliance and the Association for Education of Young Children, among several others.
"Why would he skip out on this forum? I can't really say for sure," Cronin wrote. But he later speculated: "I can only surmise that perhaps it's because the answers he would give to questions on human rights, reproductive rights, energy, and the role of faith in politics might not jibe with the values and preferences of District 19 voters."
Lately, McGowan's blog has been berating Cronin for "refusing to debate" at Boise State at a political science forum this Thursday.
"Despite multiple attempts by the organizer to contact my opponent, he has not responded," McGowan wrote. "If there is a miscommunication, that is fine, he needs to get in touch and confirm his attendance."
Cronin said there hasn't been a miscommunication; he simply hasn't decided yet whether or not to attend.
"I haven't refused, actually. I haven't decided. I sort of left it open," he said. "We've got a week to go in the campaign, and there's a lot of voters I'm still trying to contact here in the last week. The time could be well spent contacting voters."