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Heck, Herrera to face off in televised debate Oct. 16

No joint events set in Clark County as of yet

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Clark County residents will be able to watch a televised debate between the two 3rd Congressional District candidates three days after ballots go out for the November general election.

Democrat Denny Heck and Republican Jaime Herrera have agreed to debate on the KGW-TV program “Straight Talk.” The program will be taped on Friday, Oct. 15, at the KGW studio in Portland and televised Oct. 16.

Heck campaign spokesman Aaron Wasser said Tuesday that Heck would appear on the program with or without Herrera. Casey Bowman, spokesman for the Herrera campaign, confirmed Wednesday that he had juggled Herrera’s schedule to allow her to take part.

“Straight Talk,” KGW’s current-affairs show, airs at 6:30 p.m. Saturdays. It repeats at 8:30 p.m. Sundays on Northwest Cable News and can also be viewed online at http://www.kgw.com.

The debate could be the only one before Election Day to reach a large audience in Clark County. Herrera, but not Heck, will appear at 7 p.m. Oct. 18 at the Camas High School Theater in a candidate forum sponsored by the Camas Youth Advisory Council. Heck has a scheduling conflict and will not be able to take part, Wasser said.

As things stand now, the two candidates have not confirmed a face-to-face appearance in a live venue in Clark County, the most populous county in the 3rd Congressional District.

However, the League of Women Voters of Clark County is working to put together a live debate between the candidates on Oct. 20. No formal announcement of that event has been made.

Grant Lahmann, Heck’s campaign manager, said he hopes it happens.

“We would like to have as many people watch Jaime and Denny debate as possible to highlight the differences between the candidates, and clearly that would include getting extensive exposure in Clark County,” he said.

Bowman said he recently asked the Vancouver Rotary, which has hosted both candidates at recent lunch meetings, whether it would be interested in sponsoring a debate.

“They were not able to do it,” he said.

“We accepted the one Clark County invitation we received,” Bowman said. “I was disappointed to hear the Heck campaign wasn’t going to participate in the one debate here,” at Camas High School.

Earlier this week, the Herrera campaign announced she would take part in a series of candidate forums over the next two weeks. But only two will be joint appearances with Heck, and neither is in Clark County.

The two will face off twice on Oct. 13. They’ll meet at noon in Olympia at St. Martin’s College Worthington Center in a forum sponsored by the Thurston Chamber of Commerce, and at 6 p.m. in Longview at Lower Columbia College’s Wollenberg Auditorium. That appearance is sponsored by the Kelso-Longview Chamber of Commerce.

Details of a debate in Lewis County, sponsored by Centralia College, The Chronicle newspaper and the Centralia-Chehalis Chamber of Commerce, are pending.

Wasser said the Herrera campaign earlier turned down a debate in Olympia that would have been televised by KCTS-TV, the PBS affiliate in Seattle.

Bowman confirmed it. “There’s only so much time in this campaign,” he said. “With this KGW (debate), that’s five forums.”

The candidates have not made a joint public appearance since the Aug. 17 primary. Heck won 31.37 percent of the vote and Herrera captured 27.89 percent in the primary race, in which four Republicans and two Democrats competed to place among the top two vote-getters.

The civic organization Leadership Clark County organized a candidate forum attended by all six candidates in the race in advance of the Aug. 17 primary. But Temple Lentz, one of the organizers of that forum, said she expected that another group, possibly the League of Women Voters, would step up and sponsor a debate during the general election campaign.

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