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Published: Saturday, 7/10/2004

Oxley receptive to debates with Konop

Oxley Oxley
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U.S. Rep. Mike Oxley (R., Findlay) is open to the idea of meeting Democratic challenger Ben Konop for a series of debates before the November election, a spokesman for the 11-term congressman said yesterday.

Mr. Konop, a lawyer who gave up his Washington practice to campaign full time in the 4th District, invited Mr. Oxley to take part in "a forum to civilly discuss the issues that are so vital to the future of our country."

Tim Johnson, spokesman for Mr. Oxley, said the congressman would be open to debating his opponent if he can fit it into his schedule.

"In past campaigns, we've certainly been receptive to scheduling these things," Mr. Johnson said. "It is still July. Typically, in most years and still for a lot of members of Congress, the active campaign phase usually starts after Labor Day.

Konop Konop
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"When you're a sitting congressman and in Washington most of the year, you don't have the luxury of going out and doing full-time campaigning in June or July. I think people would prefer you not do that."

Brent Smyth, spokesman for Mr. Konop, said he wants to give district residents the opportunity to "compare Ben's message with Oxley's record."

Mr. Konop, 27, a Toledo native who moved to Ada, Ohio, earlier this year, is campaigning on a platform of better access to affordable health care, more federal funding for education, and revamped trade policies.

The 4th District encompasses all or part of 11 western and central Ohio counties, including Allen, Hancock, Hardin, and Wyandot. Mr. Konop has proposed debates in Findlay, Lima, Mansfield, Marion, Sidney, and Urbana.

"At this point, we're going on the assumption that it is going to happen," Mr. Smyth said of the proposed debates. "We're looking forward to it. I think anytime we have a chance to get Ben's message out to people, we stack up pretty well."



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