The debate over gubernatorial debates has begun.
A spokeswoman for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Benjamin T. Jealous said Wednesday that incumbent Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan (R) is trying to mislead the public about debates between the two men this fall.
Jerusalem Demsas made the charge after the Hogan camp announced the governor will participate in two televised debates, the first on Maryland Public Television on Sept. 17 and the second on WJLA (ABC 7) on Sept. 24.
“We have not agreed to any debates, and it’s unfortunate the Hogan campaign would seek to mislead the public,” she said. “It’s also interesting that Larry Hogan wants fewer debates in 2018 than he called for 2014, and wants those debates to happen earlier this cycle when fewer voters are paying attention.”
Hogan’s debates with Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown four years ago took place Oct. 7, Oct. 14 and Oct. 18.
The Baltimore Sun reported on Wednesday that “Hogan called for five television debates and two on radio. Brown proposed two on television and one on radio.”
Benjamin T. Jealous
The Hogan camp didn’t explicitly state that it would only agree to two debates with Jealous, only that it had accepted two invitations.
“Governor Hogan is excited and honored for these opportunities to discuss the incredible progress Maryland has made over the past four years and his vision for an even better and more affordable future in front of a statewide audience,” said Scott Sloofman, communications director of the Hogan campaign.
It’s common for campaigns to debate the number and timing of debates, along with the venues, participants, co-sponsors, rules, podium heights and format. In general, candidates trailing in the polls and challengers want more encounters, while those leading in the polls, and incumbents, seek fewer.
“Larry Hogan should have the courage to defend his record, and the voters deserve to hear both candidates’ vision for how to fully fund education, stop rising health care premiums and increase wages that have remained flat,” Demsas said.
Frequently campaigns in high-profile races will coordinate on debates, though not always.
According to the Hogan camp, the first debate will be hosted by MPT and WBAL-TV (Channel 11) in Baltimore, in association with The Baltimore Sun and the University of Baltimore.
The second debate Hogan has agreed to, at WJLA in Rosslyn, Va., will be co-sponsored by The Washington Post.