Second Murray-Smiley Senate debate still not finalized

As Sen. Patty Murray runs for a sixth term, she and Republican challenger Tiffany Smiley have yet to appear on the same stage for a debate.

“The cornerstone of democracy is healthy debate so we put out an agenda to have as many as we could,” Smiley said Thursday.

In August, Smiley proposed as many as four debates this fall and said she agreed to the Murray campaign’s request to push back the first debate from early October to late October.

“I’m very disappointed the debate is after ballots drop but, of course, I will be there,” Smiley said.

On Sept. 18, Murray’s campaign sent a news release saying she would participate in a Spokane debate Oct. 23.

The release said, “the campaign hopes that details will be finalized and an additional debate will be announced as quickly as possible.”

KIRO 7 asked for a brief interview with Murray on Thursday.

Instead, a campaign spokesperson sent an email saying Murray wants to “lock in a second debate in Seattle.”

KIRO 7 is a media partner of the Washington State Debate Coalition, which has a list on its website of the debates to which candidates have been invited.

It includes a second U.S. Senate debate Oct. 25 at Seattle University.

“No, there doesn’t seem to be a reluctance,” said Democratic political consultant Crystal Fincher. “Patty Murray has signaled they are working on scheduling at least an additional debate, there’s already been an agreement to one debate that is set.”

Fincher said Smiley is following a common tactic for challengers.

“It’s not at all uncommon to have a challenger propose a broad number of debates all over the place, but I do think having a couple of debates is an absolutely fair thing to ask and expect,” Fincher said.

In 1998, Murray held just one debate with challenger Linda Smith.

But in her subsequent reelection campaigns, the senator debated each challenger twice.

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