UPDATED A proposed debate between U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan and Republican challenger Thom Tillis, organized by three news organizations, is reportedly going forward with or without Hagan’s participation.
The event was planned for Oct. 21, to be broadcast on Time Warner Cable, sponsored by the TV station’s newsroom and The News & Observer and Charlotte Observer. TWC reported Monday night that Hagan says she will decline.
The Hagan campaign says it notified Time Warner in July that she would not participate.
"It's a disingenuous attack from Speaker Tillis who felt two debates was more than enough in the primary,” Hagan spokeswoman Sadie Weiner said Tuesday in an emailed response. “... The first debate has already taken place and we look forward to the next debate opportunity for the two candidates to compare their records for voters."
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Earlier this year, Tillis had said he would skip one of the three televised primary debates because of a scheduling conflict, but later changed his mind and participated. At one point he said there should be 10 debates between the two candidates, then later said there should be at least six.
The pair debated on Wednesday in the first of two debates sponsored by the N.C. Association of Broadcasters; the second is set for Oct. 7. Details are being worked out for a third debate, sponsored by the League of Women Voters.
On Tuesday, Tillis’ campaign jumped on the Time Warner Cable report about Hagan. Tillis sent a letter to Hagan urging her to reconsider. He also asked her to reconsider declining to participate in five other debates proposed by news media and professional associations.
“Participating in a debate hosted by a respected statewide television news channel in addition to the state’s two largest newspapers would help significantly increase the interest surrounding our race, which could very well determine the control of the U.S. Senate,” Tillis wrote.
Libertarian candidate Sean Haugh has been invited, but candidates must poll an average of 15 percent in three credible independent polls taken in late September and early October, under the rules the organizations set forth. Haugh has said he would participate if he qualifies, the station reported.