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Politics Northwest

The Seattle Times political team explores national, state and local politics.

July 26, 2012 at 11:36 AM

Inslee and McKenna agree to two more debates, still bickering over others

Republican Rob McKenna and Democrat Jay Inslee have agreed to two more debates in Washington’s hotly contested gubernatorial race.

They’ll meet in Vancouver on Aug. 29 in a debate hosted by local civic, business and government groups.

And they’ll debate in Yakima on Oct. 2 in an event sponsored by the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and KCTS.

As for other meetings, the campaigns continue the usual bickering.

McKenna campaign manager Randy Pepple accused Inslee of trying to avoid as many high-profile, televised debates as possible. “Jay is scared to appear on the same stage with Rob McKenna” he said.

Earlier this year, McKenna proposed 15 debates across the state. So far, the two candidates have only appeared at one – the Association of Washington Business’ June debate in Spokane. Inslee and McKenna have met at a few other events, but they were not debates. Inslee resisted turning some of those events into side-by-side appearances, preferring separate moderated question-and-answer sessions.

Inslee’s campaign says he has placed five more debates on his schedule. In addition to the Vancouver and Yakima events, Inslee says he is planning on a Sept. 27 debate in Tacoma, an Oct. 6 debate organized by the Seattle Center Foundation and KCPQ  and an Oct. 11 debate sponsored by KING-TV and The Seattle Times.

Although McKenna had earlier included those on his list of debates, as of Thursday he was not committing to them.

Pepple said he believes the October Seattle Times/KING 5 debate “will probably happen” but objected to Inslee’s proposed date, which would put the event on the air right after the vice presidential debate.

Pepple said McKenna might skip the Tacoma and Seattle Center events if Inslee tries to substitute those in place of higher-profile, televised faceoffs closer to the November election.

So far, Inslee has not committed to televised debates offered by KOMO or KIRO. His spokeswoman, Jaime Smith, said Thursday Inslee has not ruled out those debates, but has not committed to them either.

Comments | More in Governor, homepage | Topics: debates, Jay Inslee, Rob McKenna

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