The Atlanta Press Club announced that the Democratic incumbent will be there despite his having earlier conditioned his participation on the acceptance of GOP challenger Lee Anderson. However, Anderson was quoted in the Atlanta Journal Constitution Thursday saying he declined because the Oct. 21 debate would only give Barrow a wider forum to lie about his record.
Anderson has turned down all other debate invitations this fall although he took part in 17 events during the summer primary when three other candidates shared the stages with him.
The Atlanta Press Club, host of the debate, partners with Georgia Public Broadcasting to present feature debates to statewide audiences. Because of national attention in the 12th District matchup since Barrow is the only white Democrat in the deep South, the club expects C-SPAN to also air the debate.
Also Thursday, the club issued invitations to the candidates running for two seats on the Public Service Commission that regulates utilities, like Georgia Power Company which is constructing two reactors at its Plant Vogtle near Augusta.
Two of the challengers accepted almost immediately.
Libertarian David Staples, who wants to unseat Republican Stan Wise, jumped on the chance to participate in a televised half-hour discussion.
"Absolutely," Staples wrote in an email in response to a question about his participation. "I believe it's important for voters to know where candidates stand on the issues so they can make informed choices. This is especially true for an office that is largely ignored, such as the PSC, which affects everyone - from their electric bill to their telephone bill to those embedded costs in the goods and services they purchase."
Democratic challenger Steve Oppenheimer, who wants to remove Republican Chuck Eaton, is also eager, according to his spokesman Ted. Terry.
"Yes Steve will be participating in the debate. And looks forward to discussing these important issues with Eaton," Terry said.
The incumbents and Libertarian Brad Ploeger who is running against Eaton weren't as quick to respond either way.
The club also plans to hold a debate the same day between opponents and supporters of a question on the ballot about amending the state constitution. If passed, it would empower a board of state-level appointees to grant operating charters to schools started by parents over the objection of locally elected district school boards. The club has a moderator but hasn't yet settled on who will speak for each side.
"With all of our debates, our hope is to give voters the opportunity to learn where the candidates stand on the issues in a non-partisan setting so they can make an informed decision on election day," said Lauri Strauss, the club's executive director.