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Canceled Debate Between San Diego Mayoral Candidates Sparks War Of Words

A dispute broke out Thursday between the two San Diego mayoral campaigns over a debate scheduled for Thursday that was reduced to a pair of separate radio interviews.

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The debate was to take place at 11 a.m., but was canceled when Councilman David Alvarez learned the event would not be broadcast on CBS8, according to his campaign manager, Gabriel Solmer. She also contended that conservative KFMB radio host Mike Slater could not be a neutral moderator.

Alvarez and his opponent in the Feb. 11 runoff election, Councilman Kevin Faulconer, ended up being interviewed separately on the radio.

The cancellation of the debate set off a war of words between the two camps.

The Alvarez campaign accused Faulconer, a Republican on the technically nonpartisan City Council, of trying to "hijack" the fifth of six debates between the candidates. Alvarez is a Democrat.

"The bottom line is that Kevin Faulconer breached our agreement, trying to insert a moderator who's completely in-line with his right-wing conservative Republican values," Solmer said. "Just days ago, Slater called affordable housing a scam on his conservative shock-jock radio show."

She said Alvarez is not afraid of debating Faulconer, and did so more than 30 times in the primary campaign and four times before the runoff election.

From the other side, Faulconer's handlers sent reporters a copy of a Jan. 1 email from an Alvarez staffer to the Faulconer campaign that discussed the debate being on KFMB radio during Slater's 9 a.m. to noon show.

"For someone who claims he will be a mayor for all of us, it's unfortunate that David is picking and choosing which San Diegans he will speak with," Faulconer said. "I'm proud of my experience and record of being an independent voice for all San Diegans, and I'll continue speaking with San Diegans about my vision for our great city."

A Jan. 6 press release that announced the schedule listed both KFMB radio and CBS8 as hosts of Thursday's debate, though it made no mention of which station would broadcast the event, or whether both would, or who the moderator would be.

The final debate, scheduled for Friday, is still on, according to both campaigns.

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