Inslee, McKenna agree to televised debate

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Democrat Jay Inslee and Republican Rob McKenna have agreed to another debate — an hourlong live event to be shown on all Seattle’s network TV affiliates.

The debate, scheduled from 9 to 10 p.m. Oct. 11, will be broadcast simultaneously on KING 5, KIRO 7, KOMO 4, KCPQ and Northwest Cable News, according to an announcement by KING 5. That’s right after the night’s televised vice-presidential debate.

The Inslee-McKenna debate, to be held in the KOMO 4 studios, will be moderated by Glenn Johnson, professor of communications at Washington State University (and the mayor of Pullman). The candidates will field questions from a panel of journalists including Jean Enersen (KING 5), Dan Lewis (KOMO 4), Angela Russell (KIRO 7) and C.R. Douglas (KCPQ).

Such cooperation for a debate among all of Seattle’s TV affiliates is rare. Peter O’Connell, KING 5’s executive producer of special projects, said he couldn’t remember it ever happening before.

This sort of marketwide broadcast was long known as a “roadblock” in industry parlance, because you couldn’t get away from it, O’Connell noted. While cable and satellite means that’s no longer true, this could still be the biggest audience the candidates will get all election season.

In addition to the Seattle stations, the broadcast will be made available to every other TV and radio station in the state.

If the current schedule holds, this will be the fourth televised debate between Inslee and McKenna. They’ve already met at a June 12 debate in Spokane and an Aug. 29 debate in Vancouver. They’re scheduled to debate again Tuesday in Yakima.

And one final debate is scheduled for Oct. 16 in Seattle — that one will be co-sponsored by The Seattle Times and KING 5.

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