Under the Dome

NC Democratic primary debates canceled

Democratic U.S. Senate candidates from left, Kevin Griffin, Ernest Reeves, Chris Rey and Deborah Ross take their seats Thursday, February, 25, 2016 prior to a televised debate at WRAL's studio in Raleigh.
Democratic U.S. Senate candidates from left, Kevin Griffin, Ernest Reeves, Chris Rey and Deborah Ross take their seats Thursday, February, 25, 2016 prior to a televised debate at WRAL's studio in Raleigh. tlong@newsobserver.com

After failing to get commitments from leading candidates Deborah Ross and Roy Cooper, the sponsors of two TV debates scheduled for next week have decided to cancel the events.

The League of Women Voters and Time Warner Cable News had partnered to host Democratic candidates for U.S. Senate and governor for debates next week at High Point University.

Only gubernatorial candidate Ken Spaulding and U.S. Senate candidates Kevin Griffin and Chris Rey agreed to the proposed debates. Ross’ campaign said she would only appear if all four candidates – including long-shot Senate hopeful Ernest Reeves – were included.

Cooper’s campaign for governor said he had “already shared the stage with Spaulding four times” – although none of those occasions were televised on a major station.

TWC news director Rick Willis said Friday that the statewide news network has changed its plan for introducing the candidates to voters.

“After our review of recent polls, including our own conducted by Survey USA, we see a majority of registered North Carolina voters remain undecided on the candidates running in the gubernatorial and Senate race,” Willis said in an email. “In an effort to provide the best vehicle to educate and inform our viewers of the candidates’ positions on key issues, we invited each of them to appear as a guest on ‘Capital Tonight’ for an in-depth conversation with our anchor Tim Boyum in lieu of a debate.”

The four Democrats running for U.S. Senate appeared in a debate Thursday night on WRAL. That event will now be the only televised debate of the primary campaign season in North Carolina.

  Comments