Sep 042002
Authors: Melissa Pester

State Sen. Stan Matsunaka’s camp, D-Loveland, has charged State Sen. Marilyn Musgrave, R-Fort Morgan, of ducking debates and accused her camp of ethnic slurs.

Matsunaka and Musgrave are both running for U.S. Congress in Colorado’s 4th Congressional District, which includes Fort Collins.

“Matsunaka’s debates are not debates, they are dog-and-pony shows,” said Guy Short, Musgrave’s campaign manager.

With a political agenda and a need to meet the voters, Matsunaka challenged Libertarian candidate John Volz and Musgrave to a series of debates throughout the 4th district. Volz and Matsunaka have attended two of the planned debates, one in Greeley and the other in Estes Park; however, Musgrave has not attended nor responded to Matsunaka’s challenge.

Musgrave has not shown up for any of the debates held thus far because, according to Short, Musgrave does not believe they are debates. According to the Musgrave camp, the Matsunaka debates are not being held by bi-partisan organizations and therefore are not true debates.

“Campaigns don’t say, ‘there is a debate,’ and people show up,” Short said. “We’re not interested in playing (Matsunaka’s) political games.”

On Aug. 30, Musgrave challenged Matsunaka to six debates, which according to Short are sponsored by bi-partisan organizations in the 4th district. Matsunaka agreed to take part in the added debates, making his schedule a total of 14 debates.

Musgrave has committed to six of the 14 remaining debates on the schedule. Volz, however, has only committed to the debates originally scheduled by Matsunaka.

Reportedly, Musgrave has also made comments that some voters have deemed racist towards Matsunaka. Musgrave’s camp has called Matsunaka names like “Taxunaka” and “Sneaky Stan,” in regards to his political agenda.

“(The comments) have nothing to do with race, they are about (Matsunaka’s) insistence on higher taxes,” Short said.

“As far as ethnic slurs from the extremist Musgrave camp, it is not even an accurate description of Stan’s record,” said Jim Merlino, Matsunaka’s campaign manager.

Short has made comments about Musgrave’s opponents and their campaign after a recent poll. Musgrave’s campaigning team held a poll that resulted with Musgrave holding a lead of 48 to 37 percent over Matsunaka. No Democrat has held the 4th district seat since 1973.

However, Merlino retaliated by saying Musgrave’s poll had a flaw because it did not include Volz, the Libertarian candidate.

“(Short) has not done his research on the libertarian affect in this district,” said Jeff Bridges, communications director for the Matsunaka campaign. “Traditionally in this district, a vote for the Libertarians takes three percent from the Republican candidate.”

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