(WASHINGTON) — With the primaries almost over, it will soon be time for the general election debate, except there may not be much debate to tune in to.
Five main office debates have been confirmed in nine key battlefield states for the fall, according to ABC News’ tally.
Much of the resistance comes from Republican candidates who they say want to debate on their own terms. While it’s not a stunning break from past cycles – for example, the Trump team in 2020 tried to make demands on what was covered in the final presidential debate – it’s more than possible that, in at least a few races, it’s key to who holds the balance of power in Washington, such an effort will not result in a formal televised debate this fall at all.
Several swing states have confirmed events on the calendar. In Texas, Republican Gov. Greg Abbott and Democratic nominee Beto O’Rourke will debate in late September in the Rio Grande Valley.
Potential face-offs are expected in Florida, but this is not certain. The Sunshine State hosted two gubernatorial debates in 2018, and while there was no official word on whether or not this year’s debate candidates agreed, the host group Before You Vote began marketing activities for both gubernatorial and and the senator.
From there, the logistics become more contentious.
Here’s a breakdown of the main battlefields:
Arizona Republicans Cary Lake and Blake Masters — running for governor and the Senate, respectively — have deployed a campaign strategy to present their opponents, Arizona Secretary of State Cathy Hobbs and Senator Mark Kelly, as having something to hide instead of answering the debate. while Democratic teams say they are negotiating terms with the Citizens’ Clean Election Commission, the leading group in the state for the past 20 years. The commission requested RSVP by the end of the week.
So far, only the state of Arizona has a secretary of state with both Republican Mark Fincham and Democrat Adrian Fontes committed to the debate.
Lake officially committed to discussing Hobbs on Wednesday, October 12 after taunting her in a viral Twitter video when Hobbs’ team told ABC they “would love to be involved” but “asking them to make some changes to the format.” Masters used the same strategy as Lake, challenging Kelly via Twitter to four debates, but so far he has only committed to one, on Thursday, October 6, which Kelly’s team says they also plan to attend “in pending some final discussions.” with the owners.
Debate for Arizona Attorney General is rescheduled from August 29 to September 28. In an interview with ABC News, Hamade’s team said they are working with the clean election commission to set a date that suits both parties. confirmed. Democrat Chris Mays confirmed the original date a few weeks ago.
Another state where quarrels occur is Pennsylvania. This month, Dr. Mehmet Oz, the Republican Senate nominee, released a list of five debates in which he agreed to take part and called on his opponent, Democratic Lieutenant Gov. John Fetterman, to indicate whether he would participate. Fetterman’s team has largely remained silent: The candidate, who is recovering from a stroke he suffered in May, did not answer questions after the recent Pittsburgh event, but press secretary Joe Calvello told reporters: “We’re ready to discuss Oz. “
During the Democratic primary, Fetterman called the debate an “important piece of history” and that “voters deserve at least three network-television debates.”
In late July, local Pittsburgh station KDKA-TV invited candidates to a debate it plans to hold on September 6, but only received a response from the Oz campaign, the station’s editor told ABC News. In comparison, in 2018 Keystone State Senate candidates debated twice.
Meanwhile, Doug Mastriano, a Republican senator running for governor of Pennsylvania, proposed rules last week that prevent news outlets from owning exclusive broadcast rights to debates with his opponent, Democratic Attorney General Josh Shapiro, and allow each candidate to choose a moderator. Shapiro’s spokesman called the proposal a “gimmick” and a pretext to avoid questions from the far-right Mastriano, who shies away from nearly all mainstream media while he deflects his campaign message from the tough stance he took during the primaries. for example, by focusing on inflation and economic problems.
No debate was publicly announced.
Ohio Republican Senate nominee JD Vance did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the status of his plans for the general election debate. The campaign of his Democratic rival, Rep. Tim Ryan, agreed to three television talks.
“It is high time for JD Vance to get out of his San Francisco mansion, pay a visit to Ohio and actually speak directly to the people he says he wants to represent. And once JD agrees to these three debates, Tim Ryan will discuss JD at any other time and any other place,” Dave Chase, Ryan’s campaign director, told ABC News.
Another push came in Georgia, where Herschel Walker, the Republican Senate nominee, agreed to take part in the Oct. 14 debate. The deal came after pressure from his opponent, Senator Rev. Raphael Warnock, who accused him of avoiding debate in a campaign ad released last month.
However, the debate Walker proposes is not one that Warnock has already agreed to: Warnock has previously accepted debate invitations in Savannah, Macon and Atlanta in October, while Walker has not accepted any of those invitations. . layer of discord.
Debates are scheduled for both the Nevada governor and a Senate debate, but candidate participation remains unclear. Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak and Republican rival Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo will meet on Oct. 2.
Regarding the Senate race, Republican candidate Adam Laxalt’s spokesman tweeted that while he “looks forward” to a debate with Democratic incumbent Catherine Cortez Masto, Laxalt’s team “has not currently agreed to any invitations.” to the debate and is still considering all options for the debate.”
Democratic Senate candidate Cherie Beasley accepted an invitation from the North Carolina Broadcasters Association to debate in October, but her opponent has yet to confirm.
Republican Senate nominee Ted Budd told ABC News he is open to debate but won’t make decisions until Labor Day. Budd did not discuss any of his main opponents, nor did he indicate that he would accept an invitation to the general election debate.
Further bickering persists in Michigan’s gubernatorial race, where Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Republican nominee Tudor Dixon argue over which dates are best, with Whitmer’s team confirming to ABC News that it has agreed to two debates: Oct. 13. in Grand Rapids and October 25 in Detroit.
However, Dixon’s team pushed back the dates, tweeting that “debate should start BEFORE voting begins, not after Whitmer demands.” Dixon went on to argue that her opponent “wants to hide, but people deserve answers.”
In response to Dixon’s comments, Whitmer’s campaign officials told ABC News that “For more than a decade, the state of Michigan has hosted one to two televised gubernatorial debates statewide in October. to be able to see a clear contrast between the candidates as they make their decisions in this crucial election.”
Neither Democratic Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes nor Republican incumbent Ron Johnson responded to requests for comment on their debate plans. Previously, Johnson discussed his rivals in the 2016 and 2010 races.
Last April, the national branch of the Republican Party withdrew from the Commission on Presidential Debates, severing ties to the general election debate process and dismantling the bipartisan process that had been in the making for 30 years.
At the time, the Republican National Committee voted unanimously to leave the group, which they claimed was biased.
“We’re going to find newer and better platforms for debate to ensure future candidates don’t have to go through a biased CPD to get their message across to the American people,” NRC Chair Ronna McDaniel said at the time.
“CPD’s plans for 2024 will be based on fairness, neutrality, and a strong commitment to helping the American public become aware of the candidates and issues,” the CPD responded at the time.
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