Inslee, Culp agree to televised gubernatorial debate Oct. 7

SEATTLE (AP) — Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee and Republican challenger Loren Culp have agreed to a televised debate on Oct. 7.

The Washington State Debate Coalition said the debate will be broadcast live from 8 to 9 p.m., just after that evening’s Vice Presidential debate, The Seattle Times reported.

The candidates will participate in the debate from separate rooms at the Olympia headquarters of the state’s government affairs channel TVW. It will be broadcast statewide by TV stations including KING, KOMO, KIRO, Q13 and KCTS, according to debate coalition spokesperson Lincoln Vander Veen.

Culp, the police chief of Republic in northeastern Washington's Ferry County, had pushed for a debate with the two men in the same room, but socially distanced. His campaign did not immediately comment on the terms announced Tuesday.

Inslee’s campaign welcomed the terms.

“We are in an unprecedented moment and to ensure a safe and responsible debate, the WSDC presented this format and our campaign agreed to it,” Inslee's campaign spokesperson James Singer told the newspaper in a text message.

Singer declined to comment on why Inslee resisted appearing in the same room with Culp, but Inslee has criticized his Republican opponent for holding rallies in which few participants wear masks or abide by physical distancing guidelines.

Inslee participated in a virtual gubernatorial candidate forum Tuesday held by the Asian Pacific Islander Coalition of WA and Asian Counseling and Referral Service. Culp was invited but did not participate, event organizers said.

A debate between the candidates for Washington Lieutenant Governor – state Sen. Marko Liias and U.S. Rep. Denny Heck — both Democrats — will air from 8 to 9 p.m. on Oct. 22, the debate coalition also announced.

The Washington State Debate Coalition, founded by Seattle CityClub in 2016, is a nonpartisan coalition of media outlets and educational and other institutions which sponsors debates for major statewide political races.