Maria Cantwell (left) and Susan Hutchison

Maria Cantwell (left) and Susan Hutchison

Cantwell and Hutchison tussle over details of debate

The Senate candidates say they’re ready to face off in Tacoma and Spokane but timing is in flux.

OLYMPIA — Democratic U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell and her Republican challenger Susan Hutchison are on course to hold debates in Tacoma and Spokane next month.

But plenty of wrinkles still needed ironing out Wednesday.

Cantwell’s top campaign advisor said the senator would take part in a one-hour debate with Hutchison on Oct. 8 at Pacific Lutheran University. The event, to be hosted by the Washington State Debate Coalition, would begin at 12:30 p.m., said Michael Meehan, a veteran political strategist.

But Hutchison campaign officials scoffed at the senator’s announcement initially, noting there had been no negotiation or communication with them. Hutchison, the former state Republican Party chairwoman, had previously agreed to participate in coalition-sponsored debates Oct. 6 at PLU and Oct. 30 at Gonzaga University.

“This is contrived. Cantwell and the Cantwell campaign are making this up,” said campaign spokesman Steve Beren in an email sent early Wednesday. “Who the heck debates in the middle of the day?”

Several hours later Hutchison said she would attend if Cantwell agreed to two conditions: The debate must be taped and rebroadcast between 6 and 8 p.m. on a weekday night and the senator had to agree to the Spokane debate offered by the coalition.

Cantwell doesn’t object to television stations airing the debate in the evening and as often as they want, Meehan said. As far as a Spokane debate, he said the senator wants it to occur by the week of Oct. 22 when ballots are in voters’ hands.

“Some people won’t take yes for an answer,” Meehan said after learning of the conditions. “We are going to debate in Spokane in October. I promise you.”

A leader of the Washington State Debate Coalition said in an email Wednesday that they were waiting on Hutchison to confirm.

“We are standing by,” wrote Diane Douglas, executive director of the Seattle City Club. The group spearheaded formation of the coalition, which includes prominent civic leaders, universities, nonpartisan groups and media organizations, including The Daily Herald. It sponsored U.S. Senate and gubernatorial debates in 2016 which aired on affiliates of the major networks.

Coalition leaders had a different tone Tuesday. Before Cantwell said she had agreed to a date in Tacoma, Douglas and other leaders were public about their frustration with the senator for not signing on to debate on those original dates.

They sent the senator a letter urging her to reconsider. The letter, which was then posted online, recounted the group’s efforts to accommodate Cantwell and vowed to proceed and “have a podium waiting” should Cantwell change her mind.

Bryan Watt, a Cantwell campaign spokesman, said Tuesday the original dates were not working out. The campaign had been talking with the League of Women Voters about holding debates on other days at Edmonds Community College and in Spokane.

“Sen. Cantwell from the beginning has said she would do two debates,” he said. “At the end of the day we are going to debate Susan Hutchison.”

The election is Nov. 6.

Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623; jcornfield@herald Twitter: @dospueblos.

Talk to us

More in Local News

Traffic’s creeping back and some transit to collect fares again

Community Transit and Sound Transit are set to resume fares June 1, but not Everett Transit.

Neil Hubbard plays the bagpipes in front of a memorial at Floral Hills cemetery in Lynnwood Monday morning. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Memorial Day tradition continues in Lynnwood amid pandemic

Loved ones placed flags at Floral Hills cemetery as bagpipes played in the distance Monday morning.

COVID-19 and domestic violence

Public Health Essentials! A blog by the Snohomish Health District.

Counting COVID deaths isn’t as simple as you might think

State relies on results of tests and death certificates in calculating the daily toll of the disease.

Stillaguamish Tribe gives $1M to food banks, fire services

“I had to do a double take,” said the director of the Stanwood Camano Food Bank, which received $300,000.

Island County gets go-ahead for Phase 2 of reopening economy

People can gather in groups five or fewer. Some businesses can open, if they follow guidelines.

The town the virus seemed to miss: No cases counted in Index

Some in the town of 175 fear outsiders could bring in the virus. Others just want things to get back to normal.

Worst jobless rate in the state: Snohomish County at 20.2%

In April, 91,383 were unemployed in the county. The aerospace sector was hit especially hard.

Boeing worker accused of murder after Everett party shooting

Police say the suspect, 35, made sexual advances and opened fire when he was turned down.

Most Read