Live coverage of the debate between the two U.S. Senate candidates will be available in all 55 counties, as West Virginia Public Broadcasting, MetroNews and the newspapers of the West Virginia Press Association have joined together to provide television, radio, internet and print coverage.
“The organizers want to give the residents of West Virginia a chance to compare the positions of Secretary of State Tennant and Congresswoman Capito,” said Don Smith, executive director of the West Virginia Press Association. “Election of the next U.S. Senator from West Virginia is vitally important for the future of West Virginia and will impact the direction of this nation. In organizing this debate, we wanted to ensure that all residents – from Cabell County to Jefferson County, Hancock County to Mercer County and all points in between – would have live access and thorough coverage.”
This debate will only include two – Tennant and Capito – of the five candidates filed for the U.S. Senate race. Libertarian Party Candidate John Buckley of Mathias, Mountain Party Candidate Bob Henry Baber of Glenville and Constitution Party Candidate Phil Hudok of Huttonsville have not been invited to participate in the debate.
The organizers’ decision to invite only two candidates was based on AARP’s established criteria for the inclusion of candidates. For political party candidates, the party must have received at least five percent of the votes in the last general election vote, if the party ran a candidate. For independent candidates, the individual must register at least five percent in voter support in public statistically significant polls conducted by news media or other independent organizations.
“As a non-profit, nonpartisan membership organization, AARP has worked for nearly 30 years to make sure that candidates address the issues important to older voters and that these voters have the information they need to make their own choices at the ballot box,” said Gaylene Miller, AARP West Virginia State Director. “We’re pleased to be working with these outstanding media partners to ensure all residents of the state have a unique opportunity to learn more about these candidates, in their own words, in a forum that’s focused on the issues most important to West Virginians and their families.”
Smith said the goal during the 60-minute broadcast is to present a fair and balanced debate that provides all voters with as much information as possible about candidates’ positions on key issues.
Between now and Oct. 7, organizers will work with professionals, experts, members of the media and members of the public across West Virginia to develop questions. Smith said organizers will reach out to business, industry, social and civic leaders for input.
“West Virginia newspapers, WVPB and MetroNews will be gathering input on questions for the candidates,” Smith said.
Organizers will use social media to poll West Virginia residents around the state about questions they have for the Senate candidates. Debate questions can be emailed to [email protected] or posted on Twitter using the hash tag #WVSenateDebate.
“All of that information will be gathered and used to formulate the actual debate questions,” Smith said.