MERRIMACK — A U.S. Senate Republican Primary Candidate Forum scheduled for next month will only have three candidates present, as Scott Brown will not be participating in the event.
“Scott Brown will be unable to attend due to a previously scheduled event, but looks forward to meeting with the leaders of the Merrimack Business Association in the near future and learning about their important work creating New Hampshire jobs,” Elizabeth Guyton, communications director for Brown’s campaign, said in an email to the New Hampshire Union Leader.
Dave McCray of the Merrimack Business Association, the organization hosting the event planned for 7 p.m. June 18 at Merrimack Town Hall, said he was hopeful that all four candidates could come together for the first time to explain why they are best suited to represent New Hampshire.
James Rubens, Bob Smith and Karen Testerman have already responded to their invitations, saying they plan to participate in the forum.
Brown received his invitation on April 23 by registered mail, but according to McCray, had still not officially declined the invite as of Friday.
“We have heard nothing definitive. I understand he is a busy man, but we are just asking for a yes or no at this point,” said McCray. “It is not that he needs to be here, but what he does need is common courtesy.”
After an inquiry by the Union Leader, Guyton stated Friday that Brown will be unable to attend. McCray acknowledged that a local town councilor spoke with Brown earlier this week about his potential participation in the event, at which time Brown said he may be out of town that day.
Still, McCray said he did not know of Brown’s official invitation decline until contacted by the Union Leader.
“For three weeks he has been dodging this. We were not fully aware of his intentions,” said McCray. “We asked for a reply and he never gave it. I have lost total respect for Scott Brown, who obviously doesn’t want a debate.”
McCray says he held signs at the polls supporting Brown on the day he beat Martha Coakley for a Massachusetts U.S. Senate seat, adding he was hopeful that Brown would decide to participate.
“We were there for him,” he said, noting many people in southern New Hampshire are interested in hearing from Brown. “They are curious, and he is considered intriguing. People want to see all four of them together.”
McCray said the Merrimack Business Association is honored to be able to provide a forum where the voters are able to see and compare the candidates side by side while giving the candidates an opportunity to show voters that they are deserving of their vote.
The event will be moderated by Merrimack resident Tom Young, and topics of discussion will include the New Hampshire business and employment climate, healthcare and taxes.