Democratic U.S. Senate nominee Edythe C. Harrison, trailing in name recognition, campaign organization and fund raising, begins a crucial week of her campaign Sunday night with her first scheduled debate with Republican Sen. John W. Warner.
Sponsored by the Virginia League of Women Voters, the Warner-Harrison debate is scheduled to be a one-hour session featuring questions from reporters, but with no direct candidate-to-candidate exchanges.
The league said that channels 53 and 56 in Northern Virginia intend to broadcast the debate live, in addition to stations in Harrisonburg and Virginia Beach. The debate will be at the city's Convention Center Pavilion at 7 p.m.
For Harrison, a former Norfolk legislator who received her party's nomination after almost a year of campaigning and when no other major candidate emerged, the debate is the first in a series of events designed to spark interest in a campaign that has been beset by organizational troubles and staff turnovers.
Harrison's staff this weekend was still putting together a 24-hour whirlwind tour scheduled for Thursday and Friday to take her around the state.
"We've got 60 days" before the Nov. 6 election, said press secretary Steve Morrison, adding that Harrison has spent much of her summer attending community events, talking with key Democrats, raising money and "building from the grass roots up."
Warner, completing his first term, has reported about $2 million in contributions, compared to about $400,000 that Harrison's aides say she has raised.