SALT LAKE CITY — Sen. Orrin Hatch and former state Sen. Dan Liljenquist have agreed to one debate before the Republican primary election June 26.
Hatch's campaign manager Dave Hansen told KSL Radio on Tuesday that the senator has accepted an invitation a debate Liljenquist on the Doug Wright Show in June. A date and time has not been set.
"This will be the last one," Hansen said.
And the only debate since Liljenquist narrowly forced the six-term senator into a primary at the state Republican Party convention last month. Hansen said Hatch isn't doing any other debates.
Liljenquist is attempting to turn the tables on Hatch, saying that when Hatch first ran in 1976 he called for eight debates so that Utahns could see the candidates side-by-side and hear their positions.
"We expect the same courtesy from Sen. Hatch," Liljenquist told KSL Radio.
Liljequist said his campaign has for two weeks invited Hatch to debate.
"Those offers have been ignored," he said. "Why does Sen. Hatch feel he is entitled to run out the clock as he runs for his seventh term and simply refuse to debate?”
Hansen said it isn't true that Hatch has dodged debates. The candidates have appeared together 19 times, including the 12 county conventions and two debates, he said.
All those events were mostly for delegates and took place before the April 21 state GOP convention.
Debates are only one way of communicating with voters and are getting more emphasis than they deserve, Hansen said.
Hatch's first responsibility is to fulfill his duties as a senator and represent the state in Washington, D.C., Hansen said, adding Hatch can't be in Utah full time to campaign.