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Susan Hutchison challenges Sen. Maria Cantwell to 10 debates

U.S. Senate Republican candidate Susan Hutchison challenged incumbent Maria Cantwell to a series of 10 debates to be held throughout the state during a Friday morning visit to Spokane. (Amy Edelen / The Spokesman-Review)

Republican candidate Susan Hutchison of Seattle challenged incumbent Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell on Friday to a series of 10 debates to be held in each congressional district throughout Washington.

“The citizens from big cities and small towns will be guaranteed something they haven’t had before,” Hutchison said at a morning news conference at the Spokane County GOP office. “And, that is the opportunity to see their U.S. Senate candidates up close and personal.”

Hutchison claims that Cantwell – who is in her third U.S. Senate term – has avoided debating her past opponents.

“And, because Sen. Cantwell doesn’t visit the counties – particularly in Eastern Washington – except during an election year, I think it’s important that she gets to know our congressional districts and the great people of this state.”

Cantwell came to Spokane to talk about opioids in February, housing in April and net neutrality in May. Last year, she held a town hall meeting in Spokane.

“Our campaign has received dozens of requests from organizations and media outlets,” said Nate Caminos, campaign manager for Cantwell. “With the Supreme Court nomination and Senate work schedule, our campaign will try to accommodate as many as possible.”

In 2012, Cantwell’s Republican opponent, state Sen. Michael Baumgartner, R-Spokane, challenged Cantwell to 39 debates – one in each county. He later lowered his challenge to 10.

But Cantwell only agreed to one.

The Hutchison campaign said it is willing to work with Cantwell’s campaign to arrange each debate as well as determine the locations, format and rules. Each debate would be live-streamed via Facebook to reach more voters and wouldn’t conflict with two debates held by the Washington State Debate Commission in Spokane and Tacoma this fall.

“I am certainly not afraid of our voters, no matter which political party they are affiliated with,” Hutchison said. “I think it’s good for the state to hear diverse opinions because that’s what politics is about – the ability to bring different points of view together, so we can work together.”

In the August primary, Cantwell won 54 percent of the vote against 28 opponents. She won 49 percent of the vote in Spokane County.