A debate between two Republicans running in the state's 1st Congressional District ended before it began Thursday night in Concord.
It was supposed to feature state Sen. Andy Sanborn and Eddie Edwards. But Edwards bowed out a day earlier, after refusing to sign a pledge from the New Hampshire GOP that he’d support the party’s nominee.
Edwards said he could not—in good conscience, due to recent allegations—support Sanborn. He showed up anyway, hopeful that GOP Chairman Wayne MacDonald would bend on the unity pledge. At the start of the debate, after calming the audience, moderator Jack Heath pressed Edwards if he was willing to change his mind.
“I guess we’re at the point if you’re willing to sign it,” Heath began, “you can express your objections next, otherwise I guess the …”
“I made it very clear what I was willing to do,” Edwards interrupted. “I’m willing to go to the unity breakfast and I’m willing to support our party. That’s what I made very clear.”
“OK,” Heath said. “So … not going to sign it?”
Edwards refused and walked out.
That left Sanborn alone on the debate stage for the evening. MacDonald said primary candidates are regularly asked to pledge their support.
“We very much wanted him to participate, but again, we can’t have two sets of rules, one that six candidates sign and a different one that one candidate signs.”
Edwards has increasingly criticized Sanborn for alleged inappropriate behavior with a Senate intern, in which he mentions a sex act. Sanborn has said it was meant as a joke.
Edwards and Sanborn face off in the primary on Sept. 11.