U.S. Rep. John Shadegg and Democratic challenger Bob Lord have agreed to a series of televised debates leading up to the November election, but are still working out the details.
Lord, a Phoenix tax lawyer, wants the debates to be issue-specific, while Shadegg, R-Ariz., is pushing for open-ended forums.
In a letter to Shadegg late last month, Lord suggested three debates to take place before early voting begins Oct. 2. But Shadegg said Monday that the candidate forums should allow room to address breaking news, rather than stick to a format that would prevent it. Shadegg's campaign also wants six debates.
That's fine with the Lord camp, as they've got six topics in mind: national security, veterans issues, the economy, energy, health care and campaign finance reform.
"We're really excited about the chance to have six debates. But we really do think it's critical that the debates be focused on specific issues," said Lord's campaign manager, Andrew Eldredge-Martin.
Shadegg spokesman Sean Noble said it's important to save some of the debates for later in the campaign season, since many voters remain undecided long after early October. Lord's campaign is willing to consider that, too, though Eldredge-Martin noted that up to 70 percent of people vote early.
Noble wants KAET-TV (Channel 8) to air the first debate, but Eldredge-Martin said it's too soon to make that decision. The campaigns must work out the details before approaching TV stations.
So far, no other congressional races have had serious discussions about debates.
Lord's campaign has drawn attention from national Democratic fundraising sources to the typically noncompetitive 3rd Congressional District. Shadegg is seeking his eighth term representing the district, which includes Paradise Valley, parts of Scottsdale, Cave Creek, Carefree and north Phoenix.