Carolina Journal News Reports
RALEIGH — The campaign debate season soon will be upon us, with three scheduled meetings between the two major party candidates for governor already lined up.
Two of the debates will be held at the UNC Center for Public Television in Research Triangle Park. The other will be held at N.C. Wesleyan College in Rocky Mount.
Republican Pat McCrory and Democrat Walter Dalton are scheduled to appear in all three. Libertarian candidate Barbara Howe has not been invited to any of the three.
All three debates are planned for October.
The two planned for the UNC-TV venue are Oct. 3 and Oct. 16. Both will start at 7 p.m., said Steve Volstad, a spokesman for the center. They are sponsored by the N.C. Association of Broadcasters. The debates will last one hour.
These debates will be carried statewide on the UNC-TV system, said Dick Harlow, president of the N.C. Association of Broadcasters. They also are likely to air on at least one commercial station in each market, he added. Which commercial stations will air the debates have yet to be determined.
“N.C. NOW”’s Shannon Vickery will moderate the debates. Three broadcast anchors, yet to be chosen, will join Vickery in posing questions to the candidates.
The one at N.C. Wesleyan College is sponsored by the college, the Rocky Mount Area Chamber of Commerce, and WRAL-TV. It will be held at 7 p.m. on Oct. 24.
Theresa Pinto, president of the Rocky Mount Area Chamber of Commerce, said that the agreement to hold a debate in that city was just locked in Friday. Some of the details have yet to be worked out, she said
More debates could be in the offing.
“We, I think, have 17 debate invitations,” said Schorr Johnson, a spokesman for Dalton. “There are three confirmed so far. We are looking at other ones.”
Howe, the Libertarian candidate, said she believes it’s a “disservice” to include only the two major party candidates in the debates and leave her out.
“From my perspective, in North Carolina, since it’s so hard to get on the ballot, just qualifying for the ballot ought to be enough to include the candidate,” Howe said.
“We had a threshold of 10 percent by Sept. 1,” Harlow said.
Harlow said the broadcasters association will use an average of three polls — Public Policy Polling, Civitas and Rasmussen — to determine if a candidate meets the 10 percent threshold.
The latest surveys show Howe with 6 percent in the Civitas poll and 7 percent in the PPP poll.
Brian Nick, a spokesman for McCrory, said the campaign left the debate format up to the sponsors.
“I know [McCrory would] be happy to have [Howe] there,” Nick said.
Johnson said the debate sponsors decided who would be included in the debates.
Barry Smith is an associate editor of Carolina Journal.