AUGUSTA, GA (WFXG) - The 12th Congressional District campaign took another turn south today with the announcement that a planned Saturday debate at the Augusta Islamic Center - organized by the Augusta Chronicle - was scuttled. Congressman John Barrow said it's not his fault.
"We accepted the proposed venue, we accepted the proposed time," said Rep. John Barrow. "We got that from our opponent. And then we found out they're not going to accept them."
But Rick Allen said it differently.
"That is a result of a press release from the Barrow campaign," said Allen. "That is a complete lie. And frankly, we're getting used to that."
Perhaps some insight can be offered by an email we obtained that was sent by officials at the Islamic Center.
Dr. Hossam Fadel said he met with debate moderator and Columbia County News Times editor Steve Crawford - and that Crawford told him that his "boss" at the Chronicle told him Allen would not be able to participate in the debate and that Crawford shouldn't moderate it.
"I really don't know anything about that, you'll have to talk to the Chronicle about that," said Allen.
So we did. Crawford declined comment, telling me to reach out to the Chronicle's president about the issue - we left messages, but have yet to get a response.
An article appearing in the Metro Spirit publication said the Chronicle's publisher William Morris III told Crawford to pull out of the event because it was being held at the Islamic Society.
And even Allen's campaign - in a press release to WFXG - said the venue is "suspect."
"I think it is disgraceful for someone to try to inject that sort of element into the picture and try to make the nature of the host venue relevant to whether we're going to meet or not," said Barrow.
A new debate has been scheduled for Saturday at 3 p.m. at the Evans Government Complex. Both candidates said they will be in attendance.