FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — A debate between candidates for Indiana’s 3rd District congressional seat hosted by WANE 15 will not happen as planned, sparking sharp criticism from the two challengers.

WANE 15 had proposed a debate between Rep. Banks, Democratic candidate Gary Snyder, and Independent Nathan Gotsch on Oct. 27.

Snyder and Gotsch accepted the invitation, but Rep. Banks’ campaign said the congressman had a prior commitment on Oct. 27.

“Congressman Banks has been committed to participate in a dinner for the Compassion Pregnancy Center and will not be able to participate in the debate,” the response read.

WANE 15 asked the Banks camp if another date was possible but received no response. Banks has not suggested a different date.

Pictured are Indiana’s 3rd District Congressional candidates, incumbent Republican Jim Banks, Independent Nathan Gotsch, and Democrat Gary Snyder.

WANE 15’s deadline to agree to a debate was Sept. 30.

WANE 15, as Your Local Election Headquarters, has historically hosted debates between local election candidates.

Snyder emailed his response to WANE 15.

“I want to start by saying that while I am disappointed in Jim Banks’ cowardly decision to stymie democracy and your right to know where he stands on the issues, I am not surprised,” said Snyder.

“I would probably be hesitant too if I had to try to defend a record of pushing a national ban on abortion with no exceptions. Not for rape. Not for incest. Not if a woman’s life is in danger.

I would be hesitant too if I had to defend my actions of fomenting the 1/6 insurrection and continuing to spread the lies and misinformation that lead to the violence that day.

Finally, I would be hesitant too if I had to try to defend being in Congress for six years, making $180,000 of taxpayer money each year while living in a $1,000,000 house in Virginia always voting against helping working families put food on the table and gas in their tank,” added Snyder.

Gotsch also emailed WANE 15.

“Our democracy needs real, healthy debates, especially at a time when America is experiencing so much chaos, he said.

“It’s vital that voters are able to see all the candidates in this race side by side so they can make an informed decision in November. Unfortunately, debates are becoming a rare occurrence these days, as is political courage, and Jim Banks has shown he lacks that today.”

Gotsch called Banks’ reason for not participating “an empty excuse.”

“If our Congressman wasn’t afraid to face questions about his record in Washington, he would have proposed an alternate date. The fact that he didn’t shows that he never planned to give the voters of Northeast Indiana the opportunity to see him answer to them.

“That just means we’ll need to speak loudly enough on November 8th enough for Jim Banks to hear us.”