Update: Carruth Not Expected at Event Tonight
The two candidates set for a runoff for the Senate District 31 seat are not expected to share the stage tonight at an event in Dallas scheduled by State Sen. Bill Heath. Challenger Bill Carruth, however, says he remains open to a public debate.
Bill Carruth emailed Dallas-Hiram Patch after our story was published to clarify his response to State Sen. Bill Heath. While Carruth wrote that he would “welcome the opportunity to debate the real issues facing the voters,” and was looking forward “to highlighting those differences in a public forum,” his response agreed to such a forum on the condition that Heath formally respond to an ethics complaint and sign a pledge toward ethics reform.
With just over two weeks to go before the runoff in their Senate District 31 race, State Sen. Bill Heath and challenge Bill Carruth are set take part in the first of what is to be a series of three debates tonight in Dallas.
Heath emailed Carruth Thursday night to challenge his opponent to a “Show the Facts” debate in each of the district’s three counties. Tonight’s event is set to take place at the Paulding County Chamber of Commerce.
“You have made many false and misleading accusations about me. Frankly the voters are confused as some of the accusations are difficult to believe,” Heath wrote in his letter to Carruth. “Therefore, as a service to the voters, I have reserved venues in each county where we can gather and discuss these very important issues. I know the timing is very short, but with early voting beginning on August 13th, time is of the essence.”
Carruth apparently accepted the challenge Friday evening by email.
“While this is clearly another desperate attempt to deflect attention away from your lackluster record as a State Senator nevertheless, I welcome the opportunity to debate the real issues facing the voters,” Carruth wrote in his response. “I think there are many differences between me and you of which the voters of the 31St Senate District need to be made aware. I look forward to highlighting those differences in a public forum.”
Heath’s letter challenging Carruth to the debates and Carruth’s response are attached to this article.
Though tonight’s event is set to take place at the Paulding Chamber, officials with the organization sent out an email Monday to note that it is not a Chamber event.
“The debate for Senate District #31 scheduled for this evening in the Hall & Becky Echols room is NOT a Chamber sponsored event. This event is being hosted by the Bill Heath campaign,” Shelbia Bohannon wrote in the email. “It is the policy of the Paulding Chamber not to endorse or support any candidate.”
The other debates are set for Tuesday at the Sewell Mill in Haralson County, and Thursday at the Rockmart Community Center in Polk County.
Tonight’s debate as well as the two scheduled for later this week are set to begin at 7 p.m. and will last for one hour. According to the rules prescribed by Heath in his letter, each candidate will be given 20 uninterrupted minutes to provide information about their records and records of their opponent. Ten minutes of rebuttal time will be provided to each candidate as well. The order of the debate will be decided by a coin toss.
Heath’s letter states that a reporter from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution will moderate the debates. But the AJC’s Political Insider blogger, Jim Galloway, wrote on Friday that, “We’re not sure who that is.”
Dallas-Hiram Patch hopes to bring you coverage of the event later this week.
Heath and Carruth continue their quest for the Senate District 31 seat following last week’s election results. Voters in Paulding, Haralson and Polk counties gave more favor to Heath, but his 45.3-percent share of the vote was not enough to stave off the runoff; Carruth took 41.1 percent of votes while J.K. Rogers earned 13.6 percent of the ballots.
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