Bryan Steil, a Republican running in the 1st Congressional District, has challenged Democratic opponent Randy Bryce to three debates.
The Steil campaign made the call to Bryce in a press release Thursday, about 10 weeks ahead of the general election Nov. 6.
“Bryan Steil believes that it is important to have debates on the issues held throughout the district,” Steil’s campaign manager Brandon VerVelde wrote in the release. “Voters will see a clear contrast between Bryan Steil’s Wisconsin Style Solutions and our opponent’s far-left agenda.”
In a statement to The Gazette on Monday, the Bryce campaign said it would agree to debate Steil, but communications director Julia Savel said Bryce “thinks it’s sad and wrong that Bryan Steil is making this race all about himself.”
“Our campaign is interested in hearing from the working people of southeastern Wisconsin—that is why Randy is running,” Savel said. “What Bryan does not realize is this campaign is about listening and talking to the people every day, not just on debate days when it’s convenient for him and his donors.”
Details of a possible debate schedule are unknown.
The run-up to the 1st District general election already has featured heated criticisms and national political figures campaigning for the candidates.
House Speaker Paul Ryan, who has held the 1st District seat for nearly 20 years, praised Steil at an event in Clinton on Friday and said he looked forward to Steil continuing economic reforms in the district.
At a campaign event Saturday, Bryce appeared with New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio in Kenosha. In a tweet, de Blasio wrote, “Let’s not talk about what’s wrong with (President) Donald Trump. Let’s talk about what’s right about @IronStache.” Bryce often is referred to as his Twitter name, IronStache, because of his iron-working background and signature mustache.
Each candidate handily won his primary Aug. 14. Steil, a Janesville native who serves on the UW Board of Regents, secured more than 50 percent of the vote in a crowded Republican primary field.
Bryce, of Caledonia, edged out Janesville School Board member Cathy Myers by 19 percentage points.