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Governor foes agree to debate, sort of.

Byline: David Steves The Register-Guard


These are the four debates agreed to by Democratic Gov. Ted Kulongoski and Republican challenger Ron Saxton:

Sept. 28: Portland, Oregon Public Broadcasting studios. Sponsored by OPB and three children's advocacy groups. Time TBA. Broadcast live on public radio, rebroadcast on public television.

Oct. 13: Portland, location TBA. Sponsored by City Club of Portland. Noon. Delayed broadcast by public radio and television.

Oct. 17: Portland, KGW television studios. Sponsored by KGW and The Oregonian. 7 p.m. Broadcast live on Northwest Cable News.

Oct. 24: Medford, KOBI television studios. Sponsored by KOBI. 6:30 p.m. Broadcast live on KOBI and KLSR (channel 34) in Eugene.

The two top candidates for governor will be sharing the stage at least four times this fall - but they have yet to agree on an exact number.

Republican nominee Ron Saxton said Tuesday that his campaign and that of Democratic Gov. Ted Kulongoski have agreed to a series of debates leading up to the Nov. 7 election. Kulongoski's campaign confirmed that.

But the two sides have different ideas on how many debates they'll take part in.

Kulongoski's campaign spokeswoman, Anna Richter Taylor, said the governor had agreed to four appearances: three in Portland and one in Med- ford.

Saxton's campaign spokeswoman, Angela Wilhelms, said her candidate had accepted at least 10 invitations, but that the final list had not yet been worked out. That somewhat contradicted Saxton's under- standing.

Earlier Tuesday, he said the number of debates had been finalized at seven - although he added that his staff was working out the particulars.

Richter Taylor said the governor had been inundated with requests to appear at about 40 proposed debates and joint appearances across the state, but had to limit the number he could agree to based on his schedule. And she said that being both the governor and a candidate for re-election made it difficult to accept more than four invitations. She said the fact that all four will be broadcast, either statewide or regionally, meant that even at a limited number of debates, Oregonians should get a good opportunity to size up the two major-party nominees.

"This will cover a statewide audience, a wide range of issues, and will give voters multiple opportunities to see the clear contrasts between the candidates," Richter Taylor said.

Wilhelms said it wasn't clear yet to the Saxton campaign whether some of the debates he had agreed to, but that Kulongoski apparently had not, might be added to the four accepted by both sides. She said that would be her candidate's preference.

"Ron's made it very clear that he would love to give voters as many opportunities as possible to hear the candidates and see the distinctions between them," she said. "That is why Ron had agreed to do far more than four debates."

The two made their first joint appearance last month before a newspaper publishers convention in Welches. As was the case during that event, the upcoming debates will feature only Saxton and Kulongoski; the sponsors did not invite the nominees of the Constitution, Libertarian or Pacific-Green parties to appear.

Political scientist Jim Moore said the number of debates agreed to by both sides and the exclusion of minor-party candidates both struck him as typical governor's race fare during a general election. He said the biggest shortcoming was that of the four debates, three would be held in Portland.

"You would hope they'd be more geographically representative, but the key thing is, they're all going to be televised," said Moore, a professor at Pacific University in Forest Grove.

"The televised debates are going to be the major way that Oregonians get to to know" the candidates.
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Title Annotation:Politics; Saxton wants from seven to 10, while Gov. Kulongoski says it will be just four
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Aug 23, 2006
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