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Published September 23 2010

Hoeven, Potter debate today in Fargo

With 40 days left until Election Day, the two leading candidates for North Dakota’s open U.S. Senate seat will go head-to-head for the first time this campaign season.

Republican Gov. John Hoeven and Democratic-NPL state Sen. Tracy Potter of Bismarck are expected to deliberate a host of issues during a one-hour debate at 3 p.m. today at the Ramada Plaza Suites.

The event is free and open to the public.

Hoeven and Potter have presented their positions during a few joint appearances in recent weeks, but the North Dakota Broadcasters Association is sponsoring the first formal debate the pair will participate in.

The only other debate Hoeven and Potter plan to engage in takes place next week – a taped debate Oct. 1 with Prairie Public Broadcasting. The program will be broadcast several times in the final month leading up to the election.

Potter had been aggressively challenging Hoeven to agree to additional debates – even initiating an online petition to gather support, which has drawn about 200 comments.

But Hoeven takes an approach that inherently limits the number of debates possible. He has declined all invitations to participate in debates sponsored by private media companies, so as not to favor one over another.

“The debate format is set so that all the TV stations and radio stations can participate rather than just picking one,” Hoeven said last week following a joint appearance with Potter at the Big Iron Farm Show.

Libertarian candidate Keith Hanson, of West Fargo, also is seeking the Senate seat. The NDBA website doesn’t list Hanson as a participant in today’s debate.

If you go

Readers can reach Forum reporter Kristen Daum at (701) 241-5541