Raleigh, N.C. — By November, North Carolinians might be as sick of debates as they are of campaign ads in the U.S. Senate race.
Republican Thom Tillis on Thursday challenged Democratic U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan to a series of at least 10 debates held across the state.
They already agreed to meet in one debate hosted by the North Carolina Association of Broadcasters Educational Foundation, the date of which hasn't been set. Tillis, speaker of the state House, also agreed to participate in debates hosted by the North Carolina Bankers Association and the North Carolina Medical Society and said he hopes Hagan follows suit.
"In order to truly give the voters of North Carolina a real opportunity to hear from their Senate candidates, I propose that we meet for a minimum of 10 debates, with no fewer than one debate in each of the six major regions in the state to allow for greater public viewership," he said in a letter to Hagan.
Hagan spokeswoman Sadie Weiner said the gauntlet was dropped only after Hagan announced she was attending the N.C. Association of Broadcasters debate and invited his camp to discuss logistics of other face-offs with her liaison.
"I know I am not alone in expressing my hope that this election will be one marked by a civil exchange of ideas," Hagan wrote in a letter to Tillis, noting that former Sen. Elizabeth Dole refused to debate her in 2008. "Spirited public debates are an important opportunity to promote that exchange and provide voters a chance to understand the stark contrast before them this year. The people of North Carolina deserve no less."
Weiner, however, didn't respond directly to the question of whether Hagan would agree to the 10-debate format.
Tillis spokesman Jordan Shaw said in an email that "we certainly hope Sen. Hagan’s letter today is not an attempt to limit this race to only two debates."