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Three months after winning the Democratic nomination, mayoral hopeful Muriel Bowser isn’t budging on her commitment not to debate her opponents until they officially make the ballot. Even the possibility of a home-court advantage hasn’t swayed the Bowser campaign, with the councilmember’s campaign recently rejecting an offer organized by Advisory Neighborhood Commission members in Bowser’s own Ward 4.

Representatives from multiple ANC’s in Bowser’s home ward tried to schedule a debate between the mayoral candidates for later this month. The Bowser campaign refused to participate, though, according to one organizer.

“We thought that because Muriel was from Ward 4 and we were the advisory neighborhood commissioners that she would agree to do this,” says Martha Mitchell, who was asked to be one of the panelists at the forum.

Bowser campaign spokesman Bo Shuff says that, Ward 4 or not, Bowser won’t face her opponents until the D.C. Board of Elections certifies their nominating signatures to make the ballot. That won’t come until early September.

“The same thing applies,” Shuff says. “We’re not doing any forums until after the field is set.”

Cue David Catania campaign manager Ben Young, who says that Bowser’s continued avoidance of both debates and a joint appearance on WAMU’s The Politics Hour are an attempt to dodge his candidate. During the primary, Bowser participated in a debate before the ballot was set.

“It continues to be disappointing that there’s a mayoral election going on and the candidates can’t get together and talk about the issues,” Young says.

Shuff says that the Ward 4 ANC members can give scheduling a debate another shot later this year, after it’s clear who made the ballot.

“If they schedule a debate after the field is set, then we will look at it just like any other invitation,” Shuff says.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery