The Utah Debate Commission will host a day of back-to-back debates this month for the state’s three federal races with contested primaries.
“It is a lot of debates in a short amount of time, but it just made logistical sense on our end,” said commission spokeswoman Nena Slighting.
The three events, all slated for Tuesday, May 29, will be held at KBYU Studios, 600 E. University Parkway, at Brigham Young University’s campus in Provo. The first starts at 10 a.m, the last at 6 p.m.
With the cost of studio space — and an audience that largely streams online — Slighting said the commission decided to group the primary debates together but will separate the events for the general election.
The first primary debate — for the 1st Congressional District — is between Democrats Kurt Weiland and Lee Castillo. The two nearly tied for votes among delegates at the party’s convention last month. They will spar for a chance to face Republican Rep. Rob Bishop in the general election.
At 2 p.m., in what is largely the same matchup as last year, freshman Rep. John Curtis will face off against ultraconservative and former state lawmaker Chris Herrod. The two Republicans are racing for the 3rd Congressional District seat. The winner of the June 26 primary will go up against Democrat James Singer.
The day will wrap up with a 6 p.m. GOP debate between state Rep. Mike Kennedy and two-time presidential candidate Mitt Romney. They are running to fill the seat that will open with Sen. Orrin Hatch’s retirement early next year. Democrat Jenny Wilson handily locked up her party’s nomination last month and will skip a primary in the race.
The state’s 2nd and 4th congressional districts go directly to the Nov. 6 general election.
“There is nothing like a spirited debate to help voters make a choice,” said commission co-chairman Scott Howell in a statement Monday. “Informed voters ultimately lead to better public policy for everyone.”
Each debate is an hour long. Those who want tickets can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here’s the schedule, too, for the five general election debates, which will be hosted by the commission. All start at 6 p.m.
• 2nd Congressional District
(Republican Rep. Chris Stewart v. Democrat Shireen Ghorbani)
Monday, Sept. 17, at Dixie State University
• U.S. Senate
Tuesday, Oct. 9, at Southern Utah University
• 4th Congressional District
(Republican Rep. Mia Love v. Democratic Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams)
Monday, Oct. 15, at Salt Lake Community College
• 1st Congressional District
Wednesday, Oct. 17, at Utah State University
• 3rd Congressional District
Tuesday, Oct. 23, at Utah Valley University