Neal, Amatul-Wadud to debate before primary

  • TahirahAmatul-Wadud, left, and Congressman Richard Neal, right, will debate on Aug. 22. GAZETTE FILE PHOTOS

Published: 8/16/2018 8:59:21 AM

SPRINGFIELD — Congressman Richard Neal and progressive challenger Tahirah Amatul-Wadud will participate in a live, televised debate on WWLP at 12:30 p.m. next Wednesday.

“Congressman Neal is very excited to announce his participation in this debate which allows the most possible voters to hear directly from the candidates,” said Peter Panos, Neal’s campaign manager, in a press release.

In her own release, Amatul-Wadud said she has long called for a debate and that Neal had only agreed to do so this week.

“Rep. Neal has announced an August 22, 2018, debate on WWLP, but the format and details have not been confirmed,” she wrote. “I want a vibrant debate where voters are invited, present, and able to engage. I hope to verify that these terms can be met.”

Amatul-Wadud added that the two campaigns have “painstakingly” negotiated a debate with WGBY and the League of Women Voters on Aug. 30, and that she looked forward to attending that event.

She said Neal has ducked other events, declining an invitation to a town hall forum on Aug. 15 with the Berkshire County Branch of the NAACP and missing a candidates’ forum hosted by the Springfield City Library in Mason Square.

“The dignity of this seat requires a thorough and rigorous debate of the issues, in the spirit of democracy,” she wrote.

Neal and Amatul-Wadud are facing off in the Democratic primary Sept. 4 for the nomination to represent the Massachusetts 1st Congressional District.

Neal has been a U.S. Representative since 1989, initially representing the Massachusetts 2nd Congressional District before redistricting changed his district to the 1st Congressional District in 2013.

Amatul-Wadud, a western Massachusetts-based attorney, is a political newcomer hoping to unseat the nearly 30-year incumbent.

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