Morgan Murtaugh (left) and Rep. Susan Davis.

Rep. Susan Davis, D-San Diego, is ignoring a debate challenge in her 10th run for Congress, says the campaign of her young Republican challenger.

Morgan Murtaugh, who turned 26 Monday and could be the youngest major-party candidate for the House this cycle, picked up on Davis telling an Aug. 4 Town Hall in Chula Vista that she’d be willing to debate “anyone.”

“Yeah,” Davis told questioner Robert Fox at Southwestern College. “I think the problem sometimes is you need to have a host.”

Morgan Murtaugh letter to Susan Davis (PDF)

In a news release about the 53rd District debate “invitation,” Murtaugh’s campaign offered no specific time, place or television host.

“The Murtaugh campaign will continue to work on setting up a debate between the two candidates, despite Congresswoman Davis reneging on her public pledge,” said a statement emailed Tuesday.

About two hours later, a spokesman for Davis said: “Congresswoman Davis has debated every opponent who has ever asked. She believes voters should have a chance to hear from the candidates. She will seriously consider any debate invitation from a major mainstream San Diego television station.”

Murtaugh sent Davis, 74, the debate request to her San Diego address by certified mail. It was opened at 10:50 a.m. Aug. 11, according to a copy of the Postal Service record.

“Since then, the Davis campaign has chosen to ignore the invitation, which would have initiated the formal process of setting up a televised debate,” the Republican’s campaign said.

”Nearly two decades have gone by and there’s not been a single televised debate with Rep. Davis,” Murtaugh said. “I believe it’s time for her to come before the people of this district and join me in proposing solutions to the real problems facing San Diego families. I hope Susan will do the right thing.”

Murtaugh campaign spokesman Josh Wagoner said: “It’s alarming that after 17 years in office, Rep. Davis stands unprepared or unwilling to debate the youngest candidate for Congress in America. … It’s time she faced Morgan and her constituents.”

The letter to Davis said: “Please consider this the formal challenge to participate in a televised and live on-air candidate debate to be held mutually accommodating to both campaign schedules, on or before September 1, 2018.

Davis was asked to provide 72-hour notice and three options of a venue, date and time.

“The rules and terms of this invitation to debate shall be negotiated between the campaigns in a reasonable amount of time for preparation,” the letter said.

Updated at 2:10 p.m. Aug. 21, 2018

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