Warren Armstrong Image
Friday, September 14, 2018
FILE - California gubernatorial candidates Democrat Gavin Newsom and Republican John Cox

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Two years ago, Americans tuned in to watch Trump vs. The GOP or Clinton vs. Sanders and ultimately, The Donald vs. Hillary.

The 2016 Presidential Campaign Debates gave Americans insight into the various candidates' platforms and personalities.

It's looking more likely that Californians will not have that opportunity this fall during the campaign for Governor between Democrat Gavin Newsom and Republican John Cox.

The only thing the two campaigns seem to be debating is not debating.

As of this writing, no unscripted televised debates are scheduled between Cox and Newsom because the candidates can't agree on where, or when, or the ground rules.

Just last week, an October debate between the gubernatorial candidates on CNN (CNN?!) was canceled when a date and topics couldn't be agreed upon by the respective campaigns.

There is a public radio debate in San Francisco on the morning of October 8th, Columbus Day, tentatively on the schedule and details are still being worked out.

Cox agreed to several TV debates that Newsom turned down.

Newsom agreed to the CNN debate, but Cox wanted the questions focused on particular issues.

ABC30's sister station in Los Angeles, KABC, proposed a debate that would be aired on the various ABC affiliates throughout the state including KFSN.

It would have been shown at an hour that would have reached a wide audience and more importantly, voters.

California journalists familiar with the issues and the candidates would have served as the moderator or panelists.

Unfortunately, it's not happening.

Both campaigns seem to be playing a game of "debate chess" right now as the outcome of the race may not be as apparent as many believe.

Newsom remains the frontrunner, but a recent poll by Probolsky Research shows Cox now only five percentage points behind with 17% still undecided.

So, what we'll be getting from the candidates will be slick campaign commercials and 20-second soundbites when they roll through town like Newsom just did on his bus tour.

RELATED: Gavin Newsom makes campaign stop in Fresno

If the candidates can actually agree on it, a televised debate should take place in Fresno, at Fresno State, inside the Save Mart Center with the Bulldog Marching Band.

Why not?

Fresno is in the middle of the state and there's no hometown advantage for either candidate.

Newsom is a Bay Area guy.

Cox lives in San Diego.

Fresno, the 5th largest city in this sprawling state, is often overlooked and ignored by politicians in Sacramento.

Remember Senator Kevin De Leon's comments about nothing here but "tumbleweeds"?

Let's put the focus on the issues and concerns here in the Central Valley:

From crime to crops, housing to homelessness, hi-tech to high-speed rail, potholes to poverty to pollution, education to employment, food to forests, immigration to imports, and water, water, water.

When it's over, we can all enjoy some great local tacos and Fresno State produce.

Californians should demand the opportunity to see and hear these two candidates discuss those vital issues -- one on one.

As the LA Times wrote recently "If John Cox and Gavin Newsom can't even organize a debate, how can we trust them to run California?"