A local state senator accused of ducking recent debates and facing criticism for blocking an abortion bill spoke with 10News on Friday, giving specific reasons for his questioned actions.
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10News was there as state Sen. Juan Vargas who is running for the 51st Congressional District seat showed up to Friday's candidates' forum in Bonita.
"A lot of people are accusing you of ducking these debates recently ABC10, PBS debate and some people are saying you're backing out at the last minute," said 10News reporter Preston Phillips. "It's a pattern, other people said. How do you respond to that?"
"Well, that's crazy," responded Vargas. "I'm debating here and I'll stay as long as they want, obviously."
Vargas went on to state he will only debate if all his opponents are invited, specifically his Republican opponent Michael Crimmins, a retired Marine.
"I don't know how to look him in the eyes and say, 'Thank you for your 20 years of courage out there serving our country. Sorry, you can't debate. We're not going to allow you,'" said Vargas. "My opponent, I guess, is happy to do that but I'm not."
The opponent Vargas was referring to is former state Sen. Denise Ducheny.
"It's a campaign tactic," said Ducheny. "He never showed up when it was debates with Filner and when it's a TV debate... I mean, I looked at the TV invitation. Whoever invites you, you don't ask who's on the guest list. You get invited to dinner, you go."
In addition to debate dodging accusations, Ducheny has also been critical of Vargas for voting to block San Diego state Sen. Christine Kehoe's controversial abortion bill on Thursday.
Vargas told 10News he had good reason for voting like he did.
"The California Nurses Association believed that what should happen here is after they do the study, it should be placed in a medical journal as they normally do and then peer reviewed before they changed the law and I agree with them," he said.
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