Omaha, NE.—Election Day is less than 100 days away and Nebraska voters are still playing wait and see—wait and see who will debate, when and how often.
It’s the all too familiar debate-debate. (See Joe Jordan Reports video above.)
But, according to some states, there is a way around these games and more on that in a minute.
But first this year’s debate debacle.
More often than not incumbents want as few debates as possible and want them as early as possible.
So guess what the challengers want as many debates as possible and— if they are thinking—they want them as LATE as possible.
Enter this years races for the US Senate and Governor:
In the Senate race the only debate currently scheduled is the good old, can’t-be-ignored, State Fair debate later this month.
Democrat challenger Jane Raybould wants more debates, while Republican Senator Deb Fischer appears to be just fine with the one.
In the governor’s race between incumbent Republican Pete Ricketts and Democrat Bob Krist we’re told there will be three debates.
At the moment though only the August, State Fair debate is scheduled.
But if there are three that’s still not enough for Krist. He wants five.
Not only does Krist want five debates but he’s also playing the format game and pushing that one of the debates be devoted solely to one topic: property taxes.
Although both Ricketts and Krist agree property taxes are the single most important issue this year, there’s no indication Team Ricketts will agree to a property tax only debate.
Four years ago in Nebraska’s US Senate race the eventual winner, Republican Ben Sasse was accused of ducking a debate. Team Sasse countered he had already done three debates. The first one in June, the last in September. Weeks, if not months, before many voters had even begun paying attention.
And know this: In all these debate-debates incumbents—or in Sasse’s case the heavy-front-runner—hold all the cards.
The challenger can moan, groan and complain but when it comes to deciding when, where and how often the two will talk there is only one rule that matters: there are NO RULES, not in Nebraska.
But three other states have some rules: Utah, Indiana and Washington. That’s two red states (Utah and Indiana) and one blue (Washington).
And one purple state, Ohio, is thinking about some rules.
Basically all these states have set up commissions, similar to the Presidential Debate Commission, which says when and where; the candidates can show or not show. Most believe the bad publicity that goes with not showing will all but force everyone to the stage.
Clearly Nebraska won’t have a commission this year, but down the road the idea certainly appears worth debating.