State Reps. Wayne Wallingford and Ellen Brandom will appear at a June forum organized by the Pachyderm Club of Southeast Missouri and a July forum hosted by the Cape Girardeau County Tea Party. The race between Wallingford, who represents Cape Girardeau, and Brandom, whose current state House district includes Sikeston, is one of the most closely watched in the area. The two are vying for the Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Jason Crowell, who was term limited.
The Pachyderm Club will host a candidate forum at 7 p.m. June 21. The event will be at the club's regular meeting place, Dexter Bar-B-Que in Cape Girardeau, and is open to the public. The club's meeting starts at 6 p.m., with the forum beginning at 7 p.m.
Scott R. Clark, the Pachyderms' vice president and program chairman, said many area candidates would be there, but wouldn't specify which candidates would attend, saying an official news release would be coming next week. Brandom confirmed she and Wallingford would appear at the Pachyderms' forum.
"I think it's a good thing we'll be attending the forums together," Brandom said, referring to herself and Wallingford. "It's a great opportunity for constituents to get to know their candidates better."
Responses to emailed questions to the Wallingford campaign were not received by deadline.
The two have recently ramped up their campaigns, each one opening a Cape Girardeau campaign headquarters in recent weeks and putting out campaign signs around Cape Girardeau.
Wallingford and Brandom, among many other candidates, will also be at the Cape Girardeau County Tea Party public forum at 6:30 p.m. July 17. The event is scheduled to be at the Cape Girardeau Public Library, although an alternate location is being investigated. Because of the large number of people who might attend, the organizers are looking into holding the event at the Cape Girardeau Career and Technology Center, local tea party organizer Brian Bollman said.
"With the exception of local public administration candidates, invitations have been sent to all Republican, Constitution and Libertarian party candidates for Cape Girardeau County commissioner all the way up to candidates for U.S. Congress," Bollman said.
The forum is open to the public. As they enter the forum, candidates participating will be handed a slip of paper containing three questions for them to answer. They have the option of either answering those three questions or giving a "stump-style speech in which they give a four- to five-minute summary of their campaign and political platform.
The forum is scheduled to last an hour and a half, though may last closer to two hours, Bollman said. Time will be divided evenly among the candidates.
"Unfortunately, there won't be time for audience questions," Bollman said. "With so many candidates attending the forum, we'll have a tough enough time making sure everyone gets enough time to speak."
Bollman said he has encouraged candidates to arrive early and stay late to speak with those in attendance.
"While the Cape Girardeau Tea Party does not endorse any candidates, we do want to educate citizens about their candidate options and what each candidate stands for," Bollman said.
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