MTPR

Zinke And Juneau Debate Over Debates

Jun 14, 2016

Candidates for Montana’s House seat are calling for debates to challenge each other on key issues. But the campaigns don’t agree on when and where those debates should take place. Republican Rep. Ryan Zinke and Democrat Denise Juneau have both proposed dates and venues for debates.

Juneau’s campaign first did so in mid-May, suggesting six debates. Zinke’s campaign released their own list of five debates last week.

So far the only city both candidates have agreed on as a possible debate location is Great Falls, but they’re haven't agreed on a date for an event there.

The Zinke and Juneau camps have also both extended invitations to the Libertarian candidate in the race, Mike Fellows. Fellows, from Missoula, says he’s willing to debate anytime, anywhere.

"They’re still debating about debates, obviously, because every candidate wants to have a debate in the city that’s going to help them the best."

Members of both Zinke and Juneau’s campaigns say they are working internally to agree on debate dates and locations.

Heather Swift is with Zinke’s campaign.

"We’ve offered to host calls. At this time it hasn’t actualized, but we are very hopeful that they do come to the negotiating table and see that this is a really good opportunity for a lot of Montanans to participate in the election."

And Lauren Caldwell is with Juneau’s campaign.

"I think we are getting close. And I think we will make sure that Montanans hear from all three candidates who are running for our lone seat in the U.S. House this fall. And I expect this to get resolved in the near future."

Juneau has agreed to debates in Missoula, Great Falls and Bozeman, and has offered Billings, Butte and Glendive as other options. Zinke is offering Hardin, Helena, Kalispell, Fort Peck and Great Falls as options, and says he wants to to have debates in "Indian Country."

Juneau’s campaign said they would welcome debates in Indian Country, but the locations Zinke selected, Hardin and Fort Peck, aren't on reservations; they’re right next to them.

Both campaigns said they are emailing with editors of the Billings Gazette and Yellowstone Public Radio to set up a debate in Billings. Montana Public Radio and Montana PBS have also invited the campaigns to debate in Bozeman and Missoula.