WEAA-FM at Morgan State University has canceled a mayoral forum scheduled for Friday after Democratic nominee Catherine E. Pugh declined to attend.
Republican candidate Alan Walden, Green Party candidate Joshua Harris and write-in candidate Sheila Dixon, a Democrat, said they had all agreed to attend the event hosted by Marc Steiner.
Steiner, a longtime radio host in Baltimore, referred questions to DeWayne Wickham, dean of the School of Global Journalism and Communication at Morgan State.
"We had planned a mayoral conversation and we invited all four candidates," Steiner said. "Three of them said, 'Yes.' Senator Pugh said she could not attend and we offered her another time.
"Dean DeWayne Wickham said that unless the Republican and Democratic candidates were both part of it, we couldn't do it. He said we had to cancel it and we did. You have to talk to the dean's office about their logic."
Wickhman did not respond to a request for comment.
Pugh said Steiner's show notified her last week about the event, but she already had a packed schedule. She traveled to Washington, D.C., Friday to meet with housing officials about her plan to separate Baltimore Housing into two agencies -- including one that focuses solely on improving public housing.
"We've done every debate except for one," Pugh said. "I think I've done more than anybody has. I said I was available Monday, but not Friday."
The other candidates expressed dismay at the station's decision. Unlike the Democratic primary election race, when there were dozens of forums, there have been few such events during the general election campaign.
In Baltimore, Democrats outnumber Republicans about 10-to-1.
"There hasn't been a real opportunity to discuss the issues and debate the issues, particularly with the Democratic nominee," Harris said. "I find it perplexing that simply because Catherine Pugh did not want to participate that Dean Wickhman would cancel it. This is the kind of politics that people don't like. This is extremely disheartening."
Walden said he didn't blame Steiner for what happened.
"This is not the first time Catherine Pugh has ducked a direct confrontation with the other candidates," he said. "I suspect she decided that she is the mayor presumptive and she doesn't have to get involved with these other people.
"If this is the way political campaigns are going to be conducted, then our political process is in serious trouble."
Dixon called the decision "disappointing."
"Right before the general election, a lot of people still want to know what our issues are," she said.