North Carolina Senate candidates Hagan and Tillis call for debates


McClatchy Washington Bureau

U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan on Thursday sent a letter formally asking for a debate with her Republican challenger Thom Tillis. And the Tillis campaign responded by calling for a lot of debates – 10 at least.

Hagan wrote a letter to Tillis saying she’d accepted a debate offer from the North Carolina Association of Broadcasters Educational Foundation and urging him to agree to it too. The foundation has hosted other debates in statewide races. The date of the first debate would be something the two campaigns would have to decide on in negotiations.

“North Carolina voters deserve a full and fair opportunity to understand the differences in our records and vision, and it is my hope that we can work out a public debate schedule worthy of the people of our great state,” Hagan wrote in the letter.

The Democratic senator from Greensboro added that she hoped that after the first debate is finalized there would be others with “mainstream media partners and moderators with ties to North Carolina.”

“We are pleased to see Sen. Hagan’s commitment to a public debate schedule, and we look forward to participating in no fewer than ten debates with her during this campaign,” Tillis campaign spokesman Jordan Shaw said in a statement after receiving the letter.

“We contacted the Broadcasters’ Association the day after the primary about participating in their debates. We have also accepted two additional opportunities to debates with the Bankers Association and the Medical Society,” Shaw said. He added that the Tillis campaign wanted debates in six regions of the state.

Hagan in her letter to Tillis said she appointed Jim Phillips as her debate logistics negotiator.

“We will be in touch soon to begin discussions,” she wrote.

Hagan defeated Republican Sen. Elizabeth Dole in 2008. Hagan said in the letter that Dole wasn’t willing to debate publicly, “and I feel now as I did then that voters deserve an honest discussion of the issues that matter.”

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