McKay Christiansen, 43, a hardcore supporter of former state Sen. Dan Liljenquist (R-Utah), is using unconventional means to cajole 35-year incumbent Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) into debating his challenger before the June 26 primary.
CNN Politics reports that he has pledged to go on a hunger strike until Hatch decides to debate.
Christiansen said he knows what starving the human body can do, but also thinks it is worth risking his health if he can have an impact on the campaign. At 6 feet, 4 inches tall, and 331 pounds, Christiansen feels that he is in good enough shape to take on a hunger strike.
Many Utahns this time around are less than impressed by the incumbent’s refusal to debate his challengers. Utah’s two leading newspapers, the Deseret News and the Salt Lake Tribune have joined Liljenquist’s campaign in calling on Hatch to debate his opponent.
He has never missed a meal for more than 36 hours at a time, but Christiansen said he is prepared to do what it takes order to get Hatch to comply.
If Hatch does not comply, Christiansen would starve himself for up to 38 days.
Hatch has agreed to a radio debate before the June primary. Hatch’s political opponents criticized even that plan, and said any debate needs to be televised, and it needs to be soon.
“I know this is pretty extreme, but this is an election,” Christensen told CNN. “It’s going to take something extreme to not only get their attention, but to create enough pressure that they’ll have to respond.”
In a statement by the Hatch Campaign, however, it was pointed out that Hatch has already taken part in two debates this election cycle, prior to the state’s party convention in April.
“Our job is to make sure we get our message out, meet with Utahans and voters. Our job isn’t necessarily to get our opponent more press coverage,” according to Hatch spokeswoman Evelyn Call.