Gregoire, Rossi plan gubernatorial debates

OLYMPIA -- Democratic Gov. Chris Gregoire and Republican rival Dino Rossi will debate at least three times before this year's Nov. 4 general election.

Gregoire's campaign announced Monday that she has agreed to participate in five debates. Rossi has agreed to three of them, may yet agree to the other two and has agreed to a sixth debate that wasn't on Gregoire's list.

If there's a debate over debates this year -- there often is during high-profile campaigns -- it appears as though it'll be somewhat tempered.

No dates have been set, though Gregoire's campaign has set aside Aug. 15 -- just days before the Aug. 19 primary -- for a public radio debate that Rossi has not yet agreed to.

"We think it is important for voters to hear from both candidates before the primary," said Gregoire spokesman Aaron Toso.


"Because the primary is an election," he said.

But the other eight gubernatorial candidates on the ballot whose fate will be determined by the primary -- Will Baker, Duff Badgley, John Aiken, Christian Pierre Joubert, Christopher Tudor, Javier Lopez, Mohammad Hassan Said and James White -- would not be invited.

The campaigns have agreed to debates in Seattle, Yakima and Spokane but have done so independent of each other, said Rossi spokeswoman Jill Strait.

"The campaigns haven't talked," she said.

Gregoire has agreed to two other debates in Seattle and Tacoma, and Strait said the Rossi campaign is "working out the details" for those events.

Additionally, Rossi has agreed to appear at a third Seattle debate put on by the Seattle Times and KING TV that was not on Gregoire's list.

In a brief interview, Rossi said he covets that event because "KING 5 gets more viewers than anybody."

* Chris Mulick: 360-753-0862; cmulick@tricityherald.com