The Republican government agreed to a series of public debates, but after seeing the disastrous results of Seasongood's debate with Vice Mayor Froome Morris, the remaining debates were cancelled. Seasongood then carried on, with an empty chair standing in for the administration.
Okay, not quite the same situation, but nevertheless the empty chair thing has been around for awhile. The above passage was copied and pasted from this website, but if you want more insight into the magnificent bullshitter that was Murray Seasongood, head down to the main library when you have some time and glance over Murray Seasongood: Selection from Speeches 1900-1959, or if you're made of money just one-click it at Amazon.com.
Oh, and it was Murray Seasongood, more than any other single person, who smeared Cincinnati's Rapid Transit Loop and caused our subway project to be abandoned.