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Congressional rivals’ debate back on again

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Democratic challenger Daryl Romeyn will debate tonight after all.

The televised debate, which last week was listed as off, then on, then off again, was on again Monday as the two candidates finally both said yes at the same time. Barring some new last-minute change of heart, it will be taped this afternoon and appear at 7 p.m. on KXLY-TV and 8 p.m. on KSPS-TV.

“Both sides have agreed to be there,” Jill Johnson, the producer of the debate, said Monday morning.

Discussions for the debate began in mid-August, but a time and date for taping were still under discussion last week when McMorris Rodgers’ campaign said she wouldn’t participate because of scheduling constraints. It was the first time in more than four decades that the incumbent in Eastern Washington’s 5th Congressional District had refused to debate, and McMorris Rodgers faced a barrage of criticism.

On Friday, she offered to debate, but Romeyn said no, saying he’d accepted other commitments after she turned down the debate. If McMorris Rodgers wanted to debate, he said during an interview on KXLY-TV, she could show up at one of his scheduled appearances such as one that night in Loon Lake: “Get on your bike and ride.”

Then it was Romeyn’s turn to come under fire. Sunday evening Romeyn contacted Johnson and said he would reschedule those commitments to allow him to debate today. A candidate forum planned for Deer Park this evening was canceled, he said Monday.

The two stations agreed to air it in the time slots they’d previously planned.