Not wanting to debate your political opponent is usually a sign that a) you've got a comfortable lead and don't feel the need to convince people you're right on the issues, or b) you are afraid you will sound dumb when speaking unscripted in public, or c) both.
In any case, Guido Maniscalco's City Council District 6 campaign is railing against Jackie Toledo, his opponent in the March 24 runoff election, for skipping out on a chance to debate him.
According to a media release, Maniscalco hand-delivered a letter to Toledo's home Monday asking her to participate in a debate that would be moderated by former CL news and politics editor Mitch Perry, now a SaintPetersBlog contributor, on his WMNF call-in show Thursday. The candidate also emailed Toledo campaign consultant Anthony Pedicini about the invite.
Alas, Toledo was unavailable March 12, according to the release, and has yet to say whether she would reschedule for the following week.
"I find it distressing that my opponent does not feel that it is necessary to give the voters of District 6 the opportunity to hear from both of us, now that the race is just between us," Maniscalco said in a written statement. “While we both participated in several candidate forums, my opponent seldom responded directly to questions or would avoid answering questions altogether, instead merely reciting her resume ad nausem. I want to give the voters an opportunity to hear a true debate of the issues that face District 6 and the City of Tampa as a whole. It’s a shame that my opponent does not.”
CL reached out to Toledo's campaign, but has yet to hear back.
Toledo and Maniscalco face one another in the runoff for Tampa City Council's District 6 seat, which was formerly occupied by Councilman Charlie Miranda. The district covers West Tampa, Seminole Heights and parts of South Tampa.
While the race is supposed to be nonpartisan, there does seem to be political division between the two. Toledo has seen support from Republicans like State Sen. Jeff Brandes and State Rep. Dana Young.
Maniscalco, meanwhile, has support from multiple Democrats, including property appraiser Bob Henriquez (a former state lawmaker), Mary Mulhern and State Rep. Janet Cruz. Former Mayor Dick Greco showed up to his election night party, as did Tommy Castellano, an Independent who came in last in the March 3 primary election against Maniscalco and Toledo.