Candidates are at odds over a dinner controversy - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Candidates are at odds over a dinner controversy

Candidates are squabbling over who should and should not be able to attend a political event next week.

At the center of the disagreement: Republican District Attorney General Bill Gibbons who's running for re-election against Democratic challenger Gail Mathes.

Nine Democratic nominees drafted a letter to call for the local party chair to stop their Republican counterparts from attending the Kennedy Day Dinner Monday night. They say Democratic fundraisers are no place for Republican nominees, namely Gibbons.

"He is seeking to align himself, connect himself with us now for votes that he needs based on principals for which he does not stand," said Democratic District Attorney General Nominee Gail Mathes.

Gibbons makes no apologies about his desire to cross party lines for votes.

"I think this community would be a lot stronger and less divisive if more candidates sought votes across party lines. That's what I'm trying to do," he said.

However, the Democratic nominees say it's unfair to voters to allow Republican nominees to attend Democratic fundraisers.

"We don't believe that the public ought to be deceived by those who are not a part of these values, but who are seeking to represent themselves as though they are," said Shep Wilbun, the Democratic Nominee for Juvenile Court Clerk.

Gibbons calls it partisan politics.

"Frankly, I think most citizens of this community are fed up with the partisan bickering that we often have," he said.

The Democrats say it's within the party's bylaws to un-invite Republicans from the Kennedy Day fundraising Dinner, but Gibbons has made up his mind about going.

"Absolutely. I plan to go. Why wouldn't I? I bought a ticket. I go to various Democratic events," he said.

Democratic Party Chair Matt Kuhn says Republicans attended past events, but he will talk with fellow Democrats to see if they need to review their policy.

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