Walden agrees to debate McLeod-Skinner

This composite photo shows U.S. Rep Greg Walden and Jamie McLeod-Skinner, who is challenging him for the seat.

Almost two months after Jamie McLeod-Skinner publicly challenged U.S. Rep. Greg Walden to debate her, the 10-term incumbent has agreed to a televised debate in Bend.

The Terrebonne Democrat and the Hood River Republican could participate in a debate hosted by Bend television station KTVZ on Oct. 5 at 7 p.m.

But the two candidates need to agree to terms first.

In a campaign press release on the proposed debate, Walden touched on issues like forest fire policy and opioids.

“This debate will provide the venue for a robust conversation on these important subjects and more in a central location that will solicit questions from the public, be broadcast to a wide audience in Oregon, live streamed on social media, and available for anyone interested to view online,” he said in as statement.

In a Wednesday letter to Walden, McLeod-Skinner took issue with the format and sponsor of the debate.

McLeod-Skinner complained that at 30 minutes, the debate was far too short and added that it should be open to the public instead of being inside a closed TV studio.

According to McLeod-Skinner, Walden has also received $2,250 in contributions from the CEO and an advisor to the media company that owns KTVZ through the National Association of Broadcasters Political Action Committee.

“While the staff of the local affiliate station may be unbiased, there is nonetheless a legitimate voter concern about the perceived impartiality of the KTVZ venue,” she wrote.

McLeod-Skinner counter-proposed that Walden agree to a 90-minute debate hosted by the City Club of Central Oregon that was open to the public and took place at the same date and time.

She also suggested two more debates in eastern and southern Oregon.

McLeod-Skinner’s campaign director, Nichole van Eikeren, said the campaign is waiting for a response from Walden and doesn’t know how McLeod-Skinner will respond if Walden refuses to amend the terms of the debate.

In July, McLeod-Skinner’s campaign posted a video of her stopping Walden during the Chief Joseph Days parade in Joseph and asking him to debate her.

Walden appeared to agree, but when McLeod-Skinner presented him with a schedule of three debates, including one in Pendleton, his spokesman said Walden was “focused on other, more immediate matters” and wouldn’t comment directly on the proposal.

No other debates have been announced for District 2, which spans eastern and central Oregon and parts of Southern Oregon.

Walden has easily won each of his campaigns since he was first elected to Congress in 1998, often taking more than 70 percent of the vote.

Local election agencies will begin mailing out ballots to voters on Oct. 17. Election Day is Nov. 6.

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