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Democratic Candidates for Governor to Hold 5 Debates

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By Anita Kumar
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, March 26, 2009

RICHMOND, March 25 -- Virginia Democratic gubernatorial candidates R. Creigh Deeds, Terry McAuliffe and Brian Moran said Wednesday that they will participate in an unusually large number of debates -- five -- as well as three joint appearances before the June primary.

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"We are pleased to announce this debate and joint appearance schedule in the run-up to the June 9th primary to pick our next Democratic governor of Virginia," the campaigns said in a joint statement. "Our candidates . . . look forward to having several spirited debates on the important issues facing Virginians."

This year's Democratic primary is the party's first contested gubernatorial nomination battle in more than two decades. The winner will face former attorney general Robert F. McDonnell (R) in the November election.

In recent years, candidates for governor have participated in one to four debates in the general election.

Officials at the three campaigns said they had received more than 30 requests for debates and joint appearances.

Larry Sabato, a professor at the University of Virginia who has followed state politics for decades, said the candidates agreed to an unprecedented number of debates because they want to increase interest in a primary that has yet to attract much attention.

The debates will take place in a one-month period beginning April 19 and will be held in Williamsburg, Hampton, Danville, Blacksburg and Annandale.

The first of three joint appearances will take place in McLean on April 3.

The Washington Post and washingtonpost.com will host the final debate, to be held at the Northern Virginia Community College in Annandale on May 19.

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