CHAMPAIGN — Accusing his Democratic congressional opponent of hiding in "a groundhog hole," Bloomington physician David Gill on Thursday challenged Matt Goetten to a series of six debates around the new 13th Congressional District
"Candidate forums and debates are crucial ways for voters to vet the candidates. Before the ad campaigns muddy the waters, we need to give the voters a chance to ask us about our plans and our platforms, and see if we actually know anything about the issues that we'd be voting on in Washington, D.C.," Gill said Thursday morning at the Champaign County Democratic Party headquarters in downtown Champaign. "Matthew Goetten has not been giving voters that opportunity. He has not been giving voters the opportunity to vet him."
Gill asked Goetten to commit to a series of debates in Champaign-Urbana, Decatur, Springfield, Collinsville, Taylorville and the Carlinville/Litchfield area.
"If we could find the times, I'd love to have debates as well in Bloomington-Normal and down in Jerseyville, the home bases of myself and Mr. Goetten," Gill said.
Goetten's campaign manager, Vlad Gutman, appeared to reject the debate idea.
"Matt's focus is meeting with people across the 13th District to talk about what actually matters to them -- the best ways we can come together to take on Washington gridlock to create jobs, protect Medicare and Social Security, and invest in the middle class. He welcomes every opportunity to do that," Gutman said.
Matt has agreed to debate in a televised forum on WILL that will be aired live districtwide and rebroadcast before the election. He has also repeatedly appeared with his opponent at events in various parts of the district, and has accepted invitations to do so again. Our
schedule is full every day with Matt meeting and talking to voters about issues that matter to them, and that's how he will continue to spend the next month and a half until the election."
Gill said that Goetten already has avoided appearing with him at forums and dinners in Collinsville, on the University of Illinois campus and in Bloomington-Normal. So far, the only scheduled joint appearance between the two is a WILL-TV debate on March 14, less than a week before the March 20 primary election.
"I'm committed to discussing my prescription to clean up Congress with voters at any meeting at any town at any time throughout the 13th District," Gill said. "Everyone in this district deserves the right to question me about my platform."
Gill and Goetten are seeking to become the Democratic nominee to run in November against likely Republican opponent Tim Johnson, the six-term Republican congressman from Urbana.
The new 13th Congressional District extends from Champaign-Urbana on the northeast to Collinsville and Edwardsville on the southwest. It includes all of Champaign-Urbana, Decatur and Springfield and parts of Bloomington-Normal.
Goetten is the Greene County state's attorney. Gill is an emergency room physician who has run against Johnson and lost in three previous attempts.