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Congressional Candidates Eyeing Debate Schedule

Voters in the local area will likely get the opportunity to see candidates for Congress in a handful of debates before November.

Incumbent Congressman Jeff Denham has accepted two debate invitations in the race for California’s 10th Congressional District. The Congressman’s campaign is also open to a possible third debate focused on the Latino community.

“I am looking forward to debating my opponent, Mr. Harder, on the topics important to our district. These debates and the many meet-and-greets and community groups I get to talk to at home are important so that the voters can hear directly from us. Especially in today’s world where substance is often overwhelmed by rhetoric,” said Denham.

Denham has accepted an invitation to hold a debate at The House Church in Modesto on Tuesday, Aug. 14. The debate will be held on the topics of public safety, health care, and faith issues. The format of the debate is to be two minutes for each candidate to have opening statements. A coin flip will determine the order of who opens first before the start of the debate. Then each candidate will have 90 seconds to answer questions on the topics at hand submitted by the crowd and presented by the moderator, and the moderator will have the option to allow each candidate 30 seconds for additional rebuttal upon answering the questions. The candidates will then have two minutes for closing statements in the same order as they opened. The debate will be scheduled for 90 minutes.

Denham has also accepted an invitation to hold a debate with the San Joaquin County Farm Bureau to be scheduled sometime in August. The debate topics will focus on agricultural issues and water. The debate will be scheduled for 90 minutes.

Campaign officials for challenger Josh Harder, meanwhile, indicated over the weekend that they had not been contacted regarding the debates and also had some conditions they wanted met prior to agreeing, such as having the debate at a neutral location, the use of a third party moderator in the debates and the venues being open to the public.

Denham also directed his campaign team to respond to a debate request from Father Misael Avila of Saint Frances of Rome parish in Riverbank. This request was for a debate focused on issues relevant to the Latino community of the 10th Congressional District. Denham’s team suggested the debate be held in Spanish and the moderation of the debate should be mutually agreeable to the campaigns and host. Each candidate would have the option to use an English-to-Spanish translator at their request.

Other already specified conditions for each debate include both campaigns being given an even distribution of tickets for seating and admittance. Signs will not be permitted, and the audience will have to agree to no demonstrations or outbursts so that the candidates may be heard on the issues. The audience will be allowed to applaud upon answers given to show their support for a response or candidate. Audience members who fail to follow the rules of etiquette will be asked to leave the debate venue.

The Modesto Rotary Club has proposed a forum on Tuesday, Aug. 21, which Denham indicated he will attend. There will be a three-minute opening statement from both candidates. Then each candidate will have the chance to answer the same question from the rotary club. Both candidates will be allowed three-minute closing statements.