Raleigh, N.C. — Please see an update to this story published on April 18.
Three of the four leading candidates in the Republican U.S. Senate primary will appear in a debate hosted by WRAL News on April 23.
Dr. Greg Brannon of Cary, Wilkesboro nurse Heather Grant and Rev. Mark Harris of Charlotte are among eight candidates hoping to win the GOP nod to take on U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan, a first-term Democrat. The three have accepted WRAL's debate invitation.
State House Speaker Thom Tillis has declined an invitation to appear. He is leading in polls, but no survey has yet shown him as hitting the 40 percent support he would need to avoid a runoff.
"We have committed to participate in two televised debates, one of which is occurring the night before," said Jordan Shaw, Tillis' campaign manager. "We worked to try to accommodate the WRAL debate but had a long-standing commitment we couldn't break. We're looking forward to participating in the two debates we committed to."
Brannon, Grant and Harris are also participating in a debate on April 22. WRAL News first invited Tillis by email on Feb. 27.
The WRAL News debate will be broadcast live on WRAL-TV in the Triangle and WILM-TV in Wilmington. WRAZ-TV Fox 50 will air the debate at 11 p.m. on April 23. The debate will also be available online and available to other broadcast outlets across the state and nation via satellite.
WRAL News extended debate invitations to candidates who reached 10 percent support in polls of likely Republican primary voters.