A coalition of republican organizations hopes to host a debate between the entire field of republican candidates tomorrow night at West Mobile Baptist Church, although one candidate has yet to confirm. Daniel Dyas, a eastern shore contractor, has expressed concern that the venue may provide an unfair advantage to State Rep. Chad Fincher, a parishioner of the church.
But Terry Lathan, chair of the Mobile County Republican Executive Committee, said Fincher’s relationship to the church is a coincidence and organizers were not aware of it until after the venue was booked.
“We looked at 12 venues and this one place came available,” she said. “It wasn’t in the first group we looked at, but had everything we needed as far as technology and video screens and space – plus others were expensive and out of our budget.”
The MCREC is hosting the debate with six other republican organizations including the Azalea City Republican Women, the Knollwood Republican Women’s Club, the Mobile County GOP Club, the Mobile Young Republicans, the South Alabama Chapter of the Minority GOP and the South Alabama Republican Men’s Club.
“I did to talk to [Dyas] about it and tried to let him know at the time, the committee was not aware one of candidates attended there,” Lathan said.
She said Dyas “may show up” and would be welcome to participate in the debate, which begins at 7 p.m. after an hour of meet-and-greet and light refreshments. It will be moderated by WKRG news anchor Peter Albrecht and will last until 8:30 p.m..
Besides Fincher and Dyas, organizers invited Bradley Byrne, Wells Grffith, Quin Hillyer, Jessica James, Sharon Powe, David Thornton and Dean Young. Candidates have been provided with a list of topics, but the questions submitted by the organizations’ members will not be revealed in advance.
Lathan said the seven organizations coming together is a first-of-its kind event and the groups plan no other forums prior to the primary election Sept. 24.
“It’s going to be a really good forum,” she said. “It makes a huge statement when you have seven organizations that have pulled together to showcase all the candidates. And the odds are in our favor that one of those nine will be our next representative.”
Two democrats – Burton LeFlore and Lula Albert Kaigler – and James Hall, an independent, are also in the race.
WHAT: U.S. House of Representative District 1 Forum
WHERE: West Mobile Baptist Church, 7501 Airport Blvd.
WHEN: Tuesday, Sept. 10, 6 p.m. meet and greet, 7 p.m. debate
WHO: Nine republican candidates have been invited, WKRG Anchor Peter Albrecht will moderate