Ives claims Casten backed out of debate; he cites scheduling conflict

Republican congressional hopeful Jeanne Ives is trying to make hay out of Democratic opponent Sean Casten's decision to skip a television appearance scheduled for Tuesday night.

Ives, of Wheaton, will appear on WTTW 11's "Chicago Tonight" at 7 p.m. to discuss the issues facing Illinois' 6th Congressional District and the nation.

Casten, a freshman lawmaker from Downers Grove, was invited to participate but won't because of a schedule conflict, said his campaign spokesman, Jacob Vurpillat.

Ives spokeswoman Kathleen Murphy said Ives booked the event in September and learned of Casten's decision not to attend last week.

In subsequent social media posts and in an email to supporters, Ives accused Casten of dropping out of the debate and ridiculed him for the anticipated no-show.

"Sean Casten backed out of our final debate on WTTW," one message said. Another reads: "He's back to hiding in his basement."

Vurpillat called that inaccurate, insisting Casten tried to fit the debate into his schedule but couldn't. He rejected Ives' attempts to paint Casten as hiding from her or the public.

"In the past 22 months, Rep. Casten has hosted 40 town halls," Vurpillat said. "He participated in debates with the League of Women Voters, WBBM, WGN and, unlike his opponent, participated in every newspaper editorial board debate."

That last remark referred to Ives' refusal to participate in endorsement interviews with the Daily Herald, Shaw Media and the Chicago Sun-Times because of how the newspapers endorsed her opponents in the 2018 gubernatorial primary and in the congressional primary earlier this year.

Ives' appearance on "Chicago Tonight" will be prerecorded, her campaign spokeswoman said.

Libertarian Bill Redpath of West Dundee also is running but isn't participating in the WTTW program, either.

The 6th District includes parts of Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake and McHenry counties.

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