Just eight weeks before the election, an Oct. 4 debate between Montana’s U.S. House candidates is the only debate scheduled for any candidates in state congressional races – but another one appears likely to happen.
U.S. Senate candidates Steve Daines and Amanda Curtis have tentatively agreed to debate Oct. 20 in Billings, which so far is the only debate scheduled between the Senate competitors.
Brock Lowrance, spokesman for the Daines campaign, said Wednesday it has agreed to the format and terms of the debate, sponsored by the Billings Gazette and Yellowstone Public Radio, and is discussing further details.
“We hope to get it all confirmed soon,” he said.
The Curtis campaign has agreed to the Oct. 20 debate in Billings, spokesman Les Braswell said Wednesday.
Daines, Montana’s Republican U.S. representative, and Curtis, a Democratic state representative from Butte, are competing for Montana’s open U.S. Senate seat. Libertarian Roger Roots of Livingston also is in the race.
Montana’s Senate race is one of a dozen nationwide that could determine whether Republicans take control of the U.S. Senate this fall.
U.S. House candidates John Lewis, a Democrat, and Ryan Zinke, a Republican, have agreed to an Oct. 4 debate in Bozeman, to be hosted and broadcast statewide that evening by the Montana Television Network stations. They’re running for the open seat now held by Daines. Libertarian Mike Fellows of Missoula is in the race, too.
Other news outlets have been attempting to organize additional debates among the congressional candidates this fall, but none other has been confirmed.
Zinke withdrew from a scheduled Sept. 29 debate with Lewis in Billings, sponsored by the Gazette and Yellowstone Public Radio. Montana Public Television also had planned to broadcast the event statewide.
The Gazette and Yellowstone Public Radio still plan to hold a public forum with Lewis that evening.
Zinke’s campaign said he had scheduling conflicts and that he’ll be in Texas that evening. The campaign declined to say what type of event he’s attending in Texas.
ABC-FOX television stations in Montana are trying to arrange debates in October between the candidates in each race, but so far haven’t been able to find a date that all candidates can agree on, said Sarah Gravlee, news director. ABC-FOX has stations in Billings, Missoula, Great Falls and Butte and broadcasts statewide.
The Great Falls Tribune and Montana Farmers Union also have proposed hosting debates in Great Falls for both races, but are still negotiating with the candidates, said Richard Ecke of the Tribune.
Campaign spokeswomen for Lewis and Zinke said they’re hopeful that further debates can be arranged.
John Stepanek, news director for KTVQ-TV in Billings, said it’s continuing to try to arrange a broadcast debate between Daines and Curtis in the U.S. Senate race. KTVQ is among the MTN stations sponsoring the Oct. 4 debate in Bozeman for the House candidates.
“We think it’s important that Montanans get to see their candidates,” he said Wednesday.
Lowrance said the Daines campaign had wanted to hold a debate in eastern Montana, in Sidney, Glendive or Miles City, to address issues important to that part of the state, but said Billings would be a “compromise” site to “talk about those issues that are important for eastern Montana.”