U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell will debate her Republican challenger, state Sen. Mike Baumgartner, at least once this fall.
The Cantwell campaign announced it has agreed to an Oct. 12 debate in Seattle at KCTS, the public television station. It will be taped, and shown on other public television stations around the state. The station and the League of Women Voters of Seattle, which are co-sponsoring the debate, will each provide a moderator.
Up to this point, the Cantwell campaign had been, to say the least, noncommittal about debates. She'd do some unspecified number, at some unspecified time, her spokesman said last month.
This, of course, has frustrated the Baumgartner campaign, whose candidate once proposed a debate in each of Washington's 39 counties, but later pared down the challenge to 10, spread around the state.
The Cantwell campaign remains noncommittal about more debates, saying in the announcement press release it "continues to review a number of outstanding invitation" but insists it is happy to fit the Seattle debate into her busy schedule.
"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 ot grow jobs and boost Washington exports in the future," spokesman Kelly Steele said.
Baumgartner has something else in mind besides some salutory comments about Cantwell's "tireless advocacy." Responding to the fact that she had finally "conceded that she has a responsibility to Washington's voters" to debate, he suggested in a press release the debate start on another area: foreign policy.
"She needs to explain her record in the Middle East and her support of the war in Afghanistan," he said.
Baumgartner is still pushing for more debates, but with days falling off the calendar toward the Election, he's winnowed it down to a total of three: one in Spokane and one in Southwest Washington to go with the Seattle debate.