PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — Voters in Aroostook County will have only one chance to witness a gubernatorial debate in this region when four candidates who are running for governor are set to spar at Presque Isle Middle School later this month.
Leaders Encouraging Aroostook Development and WAGM-TV will host the only scheduled gubernatorial debate in northern Maine at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 26. The event will be open to the public for those interested in attending in person. It will also be broadcast live on WAGM’s CBS affiliate, with a rebroadcast planned for the following weekend on the station-owned Fox affiliate.
The hourlong exchange will feature Republican Paul LePage
, another independent candidate, will not take part in the event. LEAD and WAGM adopted regulations for candidate participation for the debate similar to those established by the Commission on Presidential Debates, which, among other criteria, requires that candidates be achieving a certain average in a number of polls to be invited to take part. The number set by the co-sponsors in July was 10 percent.
Recent polls show Mitchell and LePage in a dead heat, followed by Cutler, Moody and Scott, who has the support of roughly 2 percent of likely voters.
The co-sponsors are turning to the people of Aroostook County to submit questions for the four leading candidates vying to become Maine’s next governor.
LEAD and WAGM solicited questions from County residents earlier this month at the Fall and Winter Expo, held at The Forum in Presque Isle, at a booth set up specifically for that purpose and to register new voters. With the election fast approaching, the debate co-hosts are inviting northern Mainers to go online to submit their queries. The deadline for submitting a question is 5 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 20. A panel of LEAD and WAGM representatives will weed through the submissions to pick questions for the debate.
Virginia Joles, the president of LEAD, said Tuesday that the organization is “extremely pleased” to be collaborating with WAGM to host the debate.
“It will provide an important opportunity for the people of the region to hear the candidates’ views on issues impacting northern Maine,” she said.
The format for the debate will be moderator-led with questions including those submitted by the public and others developed by debate organizers. The exchange will feature opening and closing remarks by each candidate.
In addition to being broadcast live and tape-delayed on both WAGM affiliate stations, the Northern Maine Gubernatorial Debate will air live on two County radio stations. Both the Channel X Radio Network (97.7 FM, 98.1 FM, 102.3 FM and 103.1 FM) and Citadel Broadcasting station Big Country 97 (96.9 FM) will run the debate in its entirety between 7 and 8 p.m. Oct. 26. LEAD, working with a coalition of County media partners, had also attempted to schedule a 2nd District congressional debate in northern Maine between incumbent Democratic U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud and Republican challenger Jason Levesque. However, a mutually acceptable date could not be identified for such an exchange in Aroostook County in the final month of the campaign.
Northern Maine residents interested in submitting a question that may be asked the gubernatorial candidates in the debate are encouraged to go to the WAGM website at www.wagmtv.com.
Doors open at 6:15 p.m. and close just before on-air instructions at 6:45 p.m. Tickets are free of charge and will be available through Judy Dinsmore at firstname.lastname@example.org or 498-8736.