Maryland Democrat Ben Jealous and Republican Gov. Larry Hogan have agreed to a lone televised debate later this month, ending a seven-week standoff that raised questions about whether the candidates running for governor would ever face each other.
The campaigns announced jointly Thursday they would participate “in a single, hour-long debate” less than three weeks from now on Sept. 24 in an event hosted by Maryland Public Television.
The taped debate will be moderated by MPT and questions will be asked by journalists from around the area, including from WBAL, The Washington Post, the Baltimore Sun and WJLA (Channel 7).
Representatives from both campaigns said there are no discussions about holding additional debates, a break from Maryland tradition of having at least two.
“What a loss for the voters of Maryland,” said political scientist Mileah Kromer of Goucher College.
The debate will be broadcast statewide by Maryland Public Television at 7 p.m., as well as WBAL in the Baltimore region and WJLA in the Washington area.
The Jealous campaign had pushed for as many as five debates and asked for all to be scheduled in October. Hogan said he would attend two and wanted them held in September.
The campaigns on Thursday blamed each other that there would only be one debate.
Hogan campaign manager Jim Barnett said the Jealous campaign offered just one debate “to our amazement and disbelief.”
Jealous campaign adviser Kevin Harris said that offer came after Hogan refused through intermediaries to agree to more than one date that worked for the Jealous campaign.
“We ran a real risk to voters not having any opportunities to hear from the candidates,” Harris said. “Voters deserve better.”
The debate is expected to showcase the candidates’ dramatically different visions for the state.
Jealous, the former chief of the NAACP, is a progressive, first-time candidate who has pledged to bring state-level universal health care, debt-free college, dramatic boosts in education spending and legalized recreational marijuana to Maryland.
Despite Democrats’ 2-to-1 registration advantage over Republicans in the state, Jealous has been running an uphill campaign against Hogan, who has governed as a moderate and maintained approval ratings above 70 percent.
Hogan’s pitch to voters has centered on whether they like the status quo; he has cited recent polls that show most Maryland residents think the state is headed in the right direction.
Hogan also has dramatically more to spend on the race than Jealous; recent campaign finance reports show Hogan with $9.4 million on hand and Jealous with less than $400,000.
Hogan announced by news release on July 18 that he accepted invitations to two debates in September.
In the intervening weeks, his staff said he was sticking with two. Jealous wanted both those debates — though he wanted them in October — and he wanted to add three more hosted by media organizations that cater more to minority viewers, who are crucial to his coalition.