Utah Debate Commission debates between Republican congressional and Senate candidates will go on as scheduled next week, though most incumbents plan to skip the event.
The Utah Republican Party discouraged candidates from participating because it wants to control the moderators and the questions. The party and the bipartisan commission were unable to reach an agreement to co-host the debates. The Utah GOP plans to sponsor its own debates that it says would better serve the candidates.
The party has scheduled a debate in the 3rd Congressional District between Rep. John Curtis and Chris Herrod on Friday at 6:30 p.m. at BYU. A debate in the Senate race between Rep. Mike Lee, Ally Isom and Becky Edwards is planned for June 1 at 6 p.m. at a location to be determined, according to Utah Republican Party Chairman Carson Jorgensen.
Erik Nielsen, executive director of the Utah Debate Commission, said the commission continues to hold out hope that all of the candidates will take the stage next week for its debates and the door remains open for them to participate.
On Tuesday, the commission announced the moderators for the five debates, scheduled for June 1 and June 2 in Salt Lake City. The GOP primary election is June 28.
“We are extremely fortunate to have such a strong group of moderators for the Republican primary debates,” Nielsen said. “They are knowledgeable, professional and impartial. They have a great sense of the issues that matter to Utah voters. They truly set the tone for great discussions.”
Local media outlets will stream the debates on their websites, while radio stations may carry them live or rebroadcast at a later time.
Here’s a schedule for the Utah Debate Commission events:
1st Congressional District
Participating: Andrew Badger, Tina Cannon, Rep. Blake Moore.
Moderator: Thomas Wright, former Utah Republican Party chairman.
When: Thursday, June 2, 2 p.m.
2nd Congressional District
Participating: Erin Rider (Rep. Chris Stewart will not participate).
Moderator: Grant Burningham, Salt Lake Tribune, managing editor.
When: Thursday, June 2, 10 a.m.
3rd Congressional District
Participants: Chris Herrod (Rep. John Curtis will not participate).
Moderator: Natalie Gochnour, director of the Kem C. Gardiner Policy Center at the University of Utah.
When: Wednesday, June 1, 6 p.m.
4th Congressional District
Participants: Jake Hunsaker (Rep. Burgess Owens will not participate).
Moderator: Jason Perry, director of the Hinckley Institute of Politics at the University of Utah.
When: Wednesday, June 1, 1 p.m.
Participants: Becky Edwards, Ally Isom (Sen. Mike Lee will not participate).
Moderator: Doug Wilks, Deseret News executive editor.
When: Thursday, June 2, 6 p.m.