Atlanta, GA (CBS46) The two candidates in the runoff for Secretary of State were invited weeks ago to debate on Georgia Public Broadcasting, but only one showed up.

And tonight, the candidate who was a no show is feuding with debate organizers about who's to blame.

Inside GPB studios on Tuesday, there were two podiums. One for Democrat John Barrow and one for Republican challenger Brad Raffensperger.

But Raffensperger, citing a campaign event didn't show up.

Organizers opted for an empty podium instead.

"Lets meet the candidates in alphabetical order," said the moderator. "John Barrow a Democrat ... and Brad Raffensperger is the Republic candidate," added the moderator as the camera showed an empty podium.

The moderator, an anchor for NPR, continued, "Brad Raffensperger decided not to attend--he is represented by an empty podium."

And the train rolled on from there.

But you have to give the Atlanta Press Club credit for sponsoring the 15 minute solo debate, who's intention was to enlighten the voters picking Georgia's next Secretary of State. A position of paramount importance given the questions raised about electoral supervision in the state.

Later that afternoon, Brad Raffensperger released a statement on social media saying the Press Club "refused to offer any alternative times" to debate, citing a scheduling conflict for his absence.

The press club fired back, calling his statements "inaccurate."

"APC reached out to both campaigns on November 9 inviting the candidates to participate in a Secretary of State runoff debate on November 27 at 11:30 a.m. After repeated attempts to reach the Raffensperger campaign with no response, we contacted Brad Raffensperger directly on November 19 who provided another campaign contact.

We were told on November 19 that November 27 was not an ideal date for Mr. Raffensperger’s schedule, but the campaign did not decline his participation in the debate until November 25. Because the APC hosts several debates in one day, and due to limited studio availability with broadcast partner Georgia Public Broadcasting, we are not able to negotiate dates with the campaigns. As late as November 26, we were in talks with Raffensperger’s campaign to see if there was another time we could reschedule the November 27 debate that would work with both campaigns, but the Raffensperger campaign did not provide any options.

It is always the goal of the Atlanta Press Club Loudermilk-Young Debate Series to have 100 percent participation by the candidates. According to our debate rules, if a candidate does not participate, the APC still holds the debate, and the missing candidate is represented by an empty podium. This is done to make sure we don’t penalize the candidate who has agreed to participate in our debate."

Chief Investigative Reporter

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