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Sinema agreed, McSally didn't, on Tucson debate in US Senate race

Sinema agreed, McSally didn't, on Tucson debate in US Senate race

McSally, Sinema

Republican Martha McSally, left, and Democrat Kyrsten Sinema, candidates for U.S. Senate.

The main reason there will be no senatorial debate in Tucson is that Rep. Martha McSally did not agree to do one in her hometown, the news director of Arizona Public Media said.

In September, Arizona Public Media invited McSally, the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate, and Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, the Democratic nominee, to have a debate in Tucson, said news director Andrea Kelly.

Sinema quickly accepted in a public announcement. But McSally never agreed, though she never rejected the idea either, Kelly said.

“After a month of negotiation, we weren’t able to come to an agreement,” Kelly said. “McSally’s campaign never said no. It would be wrong to say they wouldn’t do it. Sinema’s did say yes.”

In place of the debate, Arizona Public Media sought to schedule interviews with the candidates. They succeeded with Sinema, Kelly said, but as of Tuesday had not been able to schedule an interview with McSally.

In a statement, McSally’s campaign spokeswoman Torunn Sinclair gave a somewhat different version of events on the Tucson debate:

“A debate wasn’t agreed to because we couldn’t agree to specific terms. The Sinema campaign has played fast and loose with this entire debate process. They publicly announced debate dates without clearing it with AZPM or our campaign. The Sinema campaign also tried to move (Monday’s) debate to 5 p.m. after AGREEING to debate at 7 p.m.”

McSally’s campaign also agreed to a debate hosted by CNN, potentially including a local partner, Sinclair said. But that did not pan out.

Sinema spokesman James Owens said there never was any CNN debate and added, “The ‘fast and loose’ applies here, but it’s squarely on McSally’s team.”

The only debate of the hotly contested campaign occurred Monday night in Phoenix at the studios of Arizona PBS, Channel 8. However, the debate was not broadcast live in Tucson.

It is available for viewing online at the website of host Arizona PBS.

On Wednesday at 7 p.m., Arizona Public Media is hosting a debate, co-sponsored by the Arizona Daily Star and KJZZ, for the candidates in Congressional District 3, Democratic incumbent Raúl Grijalva and Republican challenger Nick Pierson. After that debate, at 8 p.m., the senatorial debate will be rebroadcast on Channel 6 Plus.

Channel 6 Plus can be found at 6.3 or 27.3 over the air, or on Cox Channel 82, or Comcast Channel 396.

Contact: tsteller@tucson.com or 807-7789. On Twitter: @senyorreporter

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