Szeliga, Van Hollen agree to two on-air debates
The two major-party candidates running for Maryland’s open Senate seat agreed Wednesday to two broadcast debates and a handful of forums, capping a contentious negotiation that broke down late last month.
Democratic Rep. Chris Van Hollen and Republican Del. Kathy Szeliga, who are running to replace retiring Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, agreed to one debate on a Baltimore television station and one on a Washington radio station.
The television debate will be broadcast at 7 p.m. Oct. 26 on WJZ-TV.
It will be sponsored by WJZ-TV, The Baltimore Sun and the University of Baltimore.
The radio debate will be broadcast at noon Oct. 7 on WAMU-FMinWashington, during “The Kojo Nnamdi Show.”
At least one additional broadcast debate is still being negotiated.
Szeliga’s campaign said it had agreed to two additional television debates not yet accepted by Van Hollen: one on WBAL-TV and Maryland Public Television and another on WJLA-TV and WBFF-TV.
It is not yet clear whether Green Party candidate Margaret Flowers will participate in the broadcast debates.
The sponsors of the WJZ debate have said candidates must have support from at least 15 percent of voters in independent polling to take part.
A WAMU official said the station set its threshold at 10 percent.
The only poll conducted so far in the Senate race, by Annapolis-based OpinionWorks, found Van Hollen leading Szeliga by 29 points.
OpinionWorks did not ask respondents about Flowers.
The candidates announced other forums that they agreed to individually. The first, organized by the Maryland Federa- tion of the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association and AARP Maryland, will take place Saturday afternoon on the Germantown campus of Montgomery College.
The only other forum both candidates agreed to is the African Americans in Howard County Maryland 2016 General Election Forum on Oct. 8.
Despite broad agreement to participate in several debates, there was disagreement between the candidates on Wednesday.
A Szeliga aide criticized Van Hollen for not attending a debate on the Eastern Shore sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce.
A Van Hollen aide said the candidate had a scheduling conflict and is sending a surrogate instead.
The campaign pointed to a recent endorsement by the U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce.