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Op-Ed Piece Limits 9th District Debates, But To How Many?

Both campaigns refer to a Bloomington Herald-Times editorial for guidance on how many debates to hold...but neither takes the paper's suggestion.

yoder and young

Photo: File Photos

Shelli Yoder and incumbent Todd Young are running for the U.S. 9th District.

An editorial in a Bloomington newspaper appears to be the central factor deciding how many debates the candidates for Indiana’s Ninth District will hold this fall.  But both campaigns seem to be taking a different read on the opinion piece than what it actually says.

Two debates have been scheduled – one at Franklin College and another at a publishing house in Corydon – at the north and south ends of the district.  An August 2 editorial in the Bloomington Herald-Times recommended three:

Here’s a suggestion: Schedule three debates total in September and October, and make sure they are located where all voters could get to one without driving more than an hour (Bloomington, Salem and Corydon?). Focus on different issues with each debate and allow for longer than sound-bite answers to make sure all topics are covered in depth. District voters would have ample opportunity to see the candidates in action without the unnecessary challenge of putting on 13 events.

Remember that number – three – because here’s what Young campaign manager Trevor Foughty says the editorial promotes:

“The Herald-Times said, you know, if you start to do more than about two or so, it starts to become very repetitive,” Foughty says.

The H-T did rule out Yoder’s push for 13 debates – one in every county in the district – but Yoder thought the piece suggested a different number than Foughty thinks it does.

“My opponent’s reasoning was even the Herald-Times had said 13 might be a bit much, three or four might suffice.”

Remember: The ultimate suggestion was for three debates.  Not two, not four.  Also remember it’s a newspaper opinion piece, not a directive from the Indiana Debate Commission.  Still, Foughty says debates are important to the voting process.

“Debates, they’re not as much about the candidates as they are about the voters. It’s giving the voters a chance to hear the differences between the campaigns,” he says.

Foughty also says logistics of the congressman’s schedule played into the number of debates scheduled, but says he believes Young will spend most of the last six weeks before Election Day in the district.

Stan Jastrzebski

WFIU/WTIU News Senior Editor Stan Jastrzebski spent time as a reporter with WGN Radio in Chicago and as an editor at Network Indiana, an Indianapolis news service. Stan is the winner of awards from the Associated Press, the RTDNA, the Indiana Broadcasters Association and the Society of Professional Journalists. He hosts WFIU's Ask the Mayor and anchors WTIU's InFocus.

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