Edwards pulls out of 1st CD GOP debate over pledge to support opponentBy DAVE SOLOMON New Hampshire Union Leader
August 15. 2018 7:37PM
CONCORD — The first and only scheduled party-sponsored debate between 1st District Congressional candidates Andy Sanborn and Eddie Edwards collapsed on the eve of the event after Edwards refused to sign a pledge to endorse his foe if Sanborn won the primary.
The one-hour event is set for Thursday at the Grappone Conference Center, with iHeart radio co-hosting along with the Republican State Committee. The 7 p.m. event, hosted by radio personality Jack Heath, is also scheduled for live radio broadcast.
Late Wednesday afternoon, Edwards said he would not honor GOP party rules associated with the debate, specifically a pledge to support whatever candidate wins the nomination in the general election.
“Over the past year-and-a-half, I have campaigned in each town and city in the district. No matter where I have been, I have made the same promise to every voter: I am running to bring honesty and integrity back to Congress. As a U.S. Navy veteran and a former law enforcement official, I know firsthand the importance of these values,” he said in a statement released late Wednesday afternoon.
“That same promise is now why I am unable to sign the pledge mandated by the NHGOP to participate in their upcoming debate. I would be lying to the voters of NH-01 if I said that I would promise to publicly support Sen. Andy Sanborn if he were to win our primary. If Sen. Sanborn and I just had a different perspective on various policies, I would be more than happy to sign the pledge. However, that is not the case. What separates us is much more serious than policy disagreements.”
Sanborn issued a statement affirming the need for a united GOP and that he signed the pledge.
“The Republican Party is strongest when we are united and this race is about more than just about my campaign,” Sanborn said.
“It is important that the Republican Party carry this seat to make sure it does not end up under the control of (Democrat) Nancy Pelosi and that we have a proven conservative like myself who is ready to work for the people of New Hampshire.”
Todd Chewing, executive director for the state GOP, said he was hoping Edwards would agree to the party rule for participation.
“In formulating the rules for the debate, we wanted to make sure the party is unified, that we all come together as good Republicans on Sept. 12 to support whomever the nominee happens to be,” he said.
The pledge was no barrier and got signed by GOP candidates who are seeking the nomination to the 2nd District seat to oppose incumbent Democratic Rep. Annie Kuster. They will debate at 8 p.m.
Union Leader Staff Writer Kevin Landrigan contributed to this report.