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Live TV Debate Set for GOP Senate Candidates

The five U.S. Senate candidates in the state’s Republican primary have agreed to participate in a live televised debate sponsored by the Indiana Debate Commission on April 20.

Public television station WFYI in Indianapolis will host the event and make the one-hour debate available to any Indiana broadcast outlet. An audio feed will be available to radio stations and the Indiana Higher Education Telecommunication System (IHETS) will Web-stream the live debate, scheduled for 8 p.m. EDT.

The public will ask the questions of the candidates in the debate moderated by veteran Indianapolis broadcaster Amos Brown.

The candidates in the May 4 primary are Don Bates Jr., Richard Behney, Dan Coats, John Hostettler and Marlin Stutzman. The seat is being vacated by Democrat Evan Bayh. All campaigns have agreed to the Debate Commission’s rules and format.

(There will be no Democratic debate because there are no primary-election candidates. Instead, party officials will select a candidate for the general election in November.)

The Indiana Debate Commission is a non-partisan, statewide group of 13 affiliate organizations dedicated to promoting debates at the state level. The commission works with candidates, sponsors, venues and citizen groups to promote open, unbiased and transparent debates for Hoosier voters.

AARP Indiana is an IDC affiliate member. We are represented on the commission by Bob Jackson of Michigan City, who also serves on the volunteer Executive Council of AARP Indiana.

In 2008, the commission sponsored three televised gubernatorial debates at public venues in Merrillville, Jasper and Bloomington. More than 400 Hoosiers submitted questions to be considered by the three candidates vying for that office.

“The Indiana Debate Commission is pleased again to be offering a voter-oriented debate on an important Indiana political race,” said Dennis Ryerson, president of the commission and editor of The Indianapolis Star.

Much like the debates in 2008, Hoosier voters will be asking the questions of the Senate candidates. A committee of the debate commission will screen all submitted questions and interview the potential participants. Any Indiana resident can submit a question online at the Indiana Debate Commission site.

“Ours is the nation’s only nonpartisan, nongovernment organization devoted solely to enriching citizen knowledge of candidates and issues through quality debates,” Ryerson said. “We are eager to build on our successful 2008 gubernatorial debates as we continue to serve Indiana voters.”

Brown, who is a radio talk show host and director of strategic research for Radio One Indianapolis and a columnist for The Indianapolis Recorder, will call on selected members of the public to question the candidates.

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