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Politics Northwest

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

September 14, 2012 at 10:58 AM

Cantwell and Baumgartner will hold first debate before live TV audience

Sen. Maria Cantwell

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell and her Republican challenger Michael Baumgartner will debate before a live audience on Oct. 12, the first meeting between the candidates in a race that has generated little heat so far.

The debate at KCTS television in Seattle will be moderated by broadcast journalist Enrique Cerna and Kim Abel, co-president of Washington League of Women Voters. It will air on KCTS and affiliated stations throughout the state. The debate format hasn’t been decided.

Baumgartner, a freshman state senator, is badly trailing Cantwell in fundraising and at the polls. Cantwell is running for her third term.

Michael Baumgartner

Baumgartner has been eager to debate Cantwell, and has accused her of dodging him. He wasn’t the first Cantwell challenger to make that claim. When Cantwelll made her first run for the Senate in 2000, her Democratic primary rival Deborah Senn, frustrated at Cantwell’s rising poll numbers, launched her first advertising spot around the tagline, “Hello in there! Maria?”

Baumgartner called for additional debates in eastern and southwest Washington. In its statement, Cantwell’s campaign said it continues to review invitations for “additional joint appearances” and community forums.

Baumgartner, who served for a short time as a diplomat in the Middle East, has made foreign policy a central part of his campaign — and is hoping to make it a focus in the debate.

The statement from Cantwell spokeswoman Kelly Steele, however,  made it clear Cantwell would rather talk about domestic matters:

“While Senator Cantwell’s focus remains squarely on fighting to pass legislation like the Veterans Job Corps Act and an extension of the sales tax deduction, she looks forward to discussing her record of tireless advocacy for Washington jobs — from apples to aerospace — along with her vision to grow jobs and boost Washington exports in the future.”

0 Comments | More in homepage, Politics Northwest, U.S. Senate | Topics: Debate, Maria Cantwell, Michael Baumgartner

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