Glenn Youngkin not participating in gubernatorial debate in Hot Springs, agrees to three others

Virginia Bar Association has hosted a governor debate in every race since 1985

A Virginia tradition dating back more than 35 years will not be happening this election season.

A Virginia tradition dating back more than 35 years will not be happening this election season.

For the first time since 1985, the Virginia Bar Association will not be hosting a debate between Virginia’s gubernatorial candidates.

On Monday, Republican candidate Glenn Youngkin announced that while he is willing to take part in three debates with Democratic candidate, former Gov. Terry McAuliffe, the one historically hosted by the VBA will not be one of them.

The VBA-hosted debate dates back to 1985, meaning this year’s debate would have been the 10th-consecutive one hosted by the organization.

This year’s event was planned to be held Saturday, July 24, at the Omni Homestead Resort in Hot Springs, Virginia.

“Unfortunately, the VBA refused to dedicate a portion of the debate to a discussion on Virginia’s economy and jobs, which proved to be an insurmountable barrier in our negotiations,” said Youngkin spokesperson Macaulay Porter in a news release. “It would also be a conflict of interest to have former Clinton Foundation board member Terry McAuliffe being ‘questioned’ by a Clinton Foundation donor.”

The VBA planned to have PBS NewsHour anchor Judy Woodruff as its moderator.

More than 6 years ago, she addressed that donation, with Politico reporting that it was a $250 to the Clinton Foundation’s “Haiti Relief Fund,” which was a joint fundraising effort with former President George W. Bush referred to as the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund.

In the aftermath of the disaster, President Barack Obama asked President Bill Clinton and President George W. Bush to raise funds for immediate relief and long-term recovery efforts to help those who are most in need of food, water, shelter, medical care, and support. In response, the two Presidents established the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund (CBHF) to identify and fulfill unmet needs in the region, foster economic opportunity, improve the quality of life of those affected over the long term, and assist the people of Haiti as they rebuild their lives and country. Presidents Clinton and Bush oversee the CBHF through their respective nonprofit organizations, the William J. Clinton Foundation and Communities Foundation of Texas. One hundred percent of donations made to the Clinton Foundation and the Communities Foundation of Texas go directly to relief efforts.

Description of the fund from fund's website

Youngkin plans to participate in the following three debates:

  • Hampton University, Liberty University, and the Virginia Peninsula Chamber of Commerce in late August
  • The Appalachian School of Law in Grundy on September 16
  • A to-be-determined host and location in mid-October

“Glenn Youngkin looks forward to debating career politician and Clinton crony Terry McAuliffe, and hearing him explain his poor performance as governor,” said Porter. “We’re glad we were able to settle on a date with the Appalachian School of Law and the McAuliffe campaign, and we hope McAuliffe accepts the opportunity offered by Hampton University and Liberty University. We are in discussions with several entities to finalize a third debate in mid-October.”

McAuliffe, who previously agreed to five debates with Youngkin, responded Monday afternoon to his opponent’s decision to not take part in next week’s debate.

About the Author:

Jeff Williamson arrived at WSLS 10 in March 2016.