A debate in Spanish won’t be happening between state Senate hopefuls Tito Muñoz and Jeff Frederick, but a debate with the Spanish media — maybe.
Last week, Muñoz asked the ousted leader of the Republican Party of Virginia to debate solely in Spanish. Frederick, however, declined the request since the “General Assembly conducts its business in English,” Frederick said.
On Monday, Muñoz, also known as “Tito the builder,” posed a new request to his challenger. This time, he asked for a debate hosted by the Spanish media. Muñoz was born in Colombia and became a U.S. citizen in 2008. Frederick was born in Virginia and is also a Hispanic American. His mother was born in Colombia and later emigrated to the United States.
“This [would be] similar to the debate Univision hosted in 2010 for the hotly contested U.S. Senate race in Florida,” Muñoz said in a letter to Frederick’s campaign officials. “Mr. Frederick expresses his pride in being the first Hispanic member of the General Assembly, so let’s allow other Hispanics to engage uniquely by having this debate.”
Officials with Frederick’s campaign said, “Jeff is more than willing to attend additional debates with Mr. Muñoz.”
Muñoz and Frederick are vying for the 36th district state Senate seat, which spans Prince William, Stafford and Fairfax counties. The two, who will face off during the Aug. 23 Republican primary, are trying to oust Democratic Sen. Linda “Toddy” Puller, who has held the seat since 1999.
Because Frederick “touts his Hispanic heritage” at events and has registered his business GSX Strategies with the Small Business Association’s 8a program that helps businesses run by “disadvantaged” Americans, which include Hispanics and African Americans, Muñoz officials said in the letter to Frederick “we assumed” he could speak Spanish and a hold a debate in it.
Frederick said his company graduated from the SBA program in June 2 2011.
“This is just the latest political stunt by the Muñoz campaign,” said Mick Bransfield with Frederick’s campaign. “This distraction has nothing to do with improving the quality of life for the people of the 36th District.”
Bransfield said Muñoz’s business, DeBorn Construction, was part of similar programs, including the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise program.
Tim Murtaugh with Muñoz’s campaign said that the construction company owner has since removed himself from being a part of the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise program because Muñoz believes it would be a conflict of interest if elected to the Senate.
Muñoz, who is also a conservative Latino voice on local radio, said he will focus on job creation, tax cuts for businesses and energy independence. Muñoz kicked off his campaign in June with former governor and U.S. senator George Allen, who endorsed Muñoz for the seat. Allen is seeking the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate in 2012.
Frederick, a former state delegate, kicked off his campaign over the weekend. Frederick said he wants to get back to Richmond to promote job creation and “common sense” solutions to transportation problems that plague the region. He is focused on revitalizing Route 1 and bringing more jobs to the community.