Gov. Bob Holden has agreed to two broadcast debates with Democratic primary challenger Claire McCaskill on consecutive nights in mid-July, his campaign manager said Tuesday.
The two candidates will debate in Kansas City on July 19 and in St. Louis on July 20, Roy Temple, Holden’s campaign manager, said. The Democratic primary is Aug. 3.
McCaskill, the state auditor, had previously accepted the debate invitations and criticized Holden for foot-dragging. The Kansas City media sponsors went so far as to tell Holden that McCaskill would be given solo television time if the governor failed to participate.
Matt Davis, a spokesman for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, said Temple told him Tuesday morning that Holden would participate in the July 20 forum. Temple and McCaskill campaign spokesman Glen Campbell confirmed the debates were on.
The St. Louis debate will be broadcast live from 7 to 8 p.m. from the studios of public television station KETC. Media questioners and the moderator will come from the St. Louis news organizations sponsoring the debate: the Post-Dispatch, KETC, CBS radio affiliate KMOX, public radio station KWMU and NBC-TV affiliate KSDK. Davis said the debate would be made available to broadcasters statewide.
The Kansas City debate is being co-sponsored by The Kansas City Star, ABC-TV affiliate KMBC, public television station KCPT and public radio station KCUR.
Olivia Dorsey, a spokeswoman for KMBC and the debate organizers, said the Kansas City event would be broadcast live from 7 to 8 p.m. on July 19. Details on the format and location were still being worked out. She said the Kansas City debate would be made available to broadcasters statewide.
Campbell said McCaskill wants to have more debates. Asked whether Holden was willing to debate McCaskill beyond the St. Louis and Kansas City forums, Temple said: “I don’t think there has been any final judgment rendered on that, but this is a pretty good start.”
Davis said other Democratic candidates for governor were not invited to participate in the St. Louis debate because none so far meet guidelines, including support in independent polls of at least 5 percentage points. The other candidates are Jim LePage, of Jefferson City, and Jeffery A. Emrick, of Blue Summit.