This Friday, candidates for Virginia’s 10th District U.S. Congressional seat will debate on WAMU radio’s Politics Hour.

Well, most of the candidates. GOP primary candidate Vern McKinley will be there. Democratic candidates Judy Feder and Mike Turner will be there. But Congressman Frank Wolf thus far is not planning to participate.

Here is last week’s press release from the McKinley campaign:

Congressman Frank Wolf of Virginia’s Tenth Congressional District has not faced a Republican primary challenge since he first won his seat as part of the “Reagan Wave” in 1980. Today, he faces strong criticism from many conservatives for turning from the “Reagan Values” that he once campaigned on. Vern McKinley, Republican challenger in the 10th district, is running a campaign on these issues. McKinley is an experienced policy expert who would bring vast federal government, international and private sector experience to Congress, along with a vision of limited government.

At least four independent efforts have been made over the past few weeks to organize a debate of the issues between Congressman Wolf and McKinley: the Politics Hour on WAMU with Kojo Nnamdi; the “Road to…” show on FCAC Channel 10; the Sterling Foundation; and the Loudoun County High School Young Republicans, all of which were turned down by the Congressman. The 10th Congressional District has a long-standing history of political debates. During Congressman Wolf’s early campaigns in the 1970s then-Congressman Fisher made himself available for debates several times against then-challenger Frank Wolf. Next week McKinley will debate the two Democratic Candidates in the 10th Congressional district to get out his message. This week he also debated the Libertarian Party candidates for President, including Bob Barr and Mike Gravel.

The two Republican candidates appeared at this past weekend’s 10th Congressional District Republican Convention, but were only given two minutes each to speak. “Two minutes is not enough to inform the Republican faithful on where we stand on the issues. I hereby challenge Congressman Wolf to have a debate on the direction of the Republican Party. There are stark contrasts between Congressman Wolf and the limited government base of the party, of which I am a member. Republican voters have sent Congressman Wolf back to Washington time and again over the past three decades. Yet he doesn’t think they deserve to hear him explain his transformation into a big government Republican. We need to talk about his stance on spending and entitlements, on the proper role of government, the 2nd amendment, life and foreign policy matters,” noted McKinley.

“The Congressman’s supporters are spreading misinformation and distortions about my work in emerging market economies, such as Sudan and Libya, where I have advised on the transition to more open, free-market based, financial systems. What we need is an open debate about the issues and our years in public service. Otherwise conclusions will be based on rumor and innuendo,” McKinley concluded.

To learn more about the McKinley for Congress campaign, please visit www.McKinleyforCongress.com.

I suppose Wolf feels he has nothing to gain from the debate – no reason to submit to attacks from three sides. But he has in the past articulated his positions well, so he should have no worries about being “out-debated.” His refusal to participate conveys a sense of fear, as though he does not want to have to defend his record in the Congress.

UPDATE: Read the comments – some good discussion!