My must read of the day is "Republican Tillis is lone NC Senate candidate on live program initially billed as debate," in the Associated Press:
Thom Tillis got the stage alone Tuesday night in North Carolina's tight U.S. Senate race, the only candidate on a statewide television program in which he discussed views on abortion, global climate change and differences with absent Democratic incumbent Kay Hagan.
The program initially billed as a debate between Tillis and other candidates turned into a one-hour conversation with him and two reporters, as well as responses to emailed or recorded questions from the public. Hagan announced over the summer her decision not to participate, while Libertarian Sean Haugh didn't meet a 15 percent polling threshold to join Tillis.
An empty seat was placed next to Tillis at the Time Warner Cable News studios in Raleigh as the state House speaker answered questions on many topics as the start of early in-person voting Thursday neared.
"I'm disappointed that Sen. Hagan's not here," Tillis said in a closing statement in which he repeated themes from their previous three televised debates with Hagan in which he linked her closely to President Barack Obama's policies.
Whoever made this decision, made a mistake. Hagan’s campaign claims she declined the invitation for this debate in July, but as we saw in the Florida gubernatorial debate—if your opponent is walking on stage you better be there too.
Hagan is avoiding any associations with the president, understandably, but avoiding a debate puts her in an even deeper hole.
Hagan has a small lead right now and has been consistently ahead in recent polls, but she’s certainly not in a safe spot. The race is a toss-up and the image of an empty chair will surely haunt her campaign.
The person who explained the insanity of this decision best was MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow. In a close race, Hagan gave Tillis a platform to comfortably outline his views, without being challenged, and she seemed like another apathetic politician who has forgotten who she supposed to be speaking to—her constituents.