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Bradshaw calls for U.S. Senate debate with Hagerty

Democrat Marquita Bradshaw is calling for debate with Republican U.S. Senate rival Bill Hagerty.

“I believe that voters across our state deserve to hear more about my policy platform and how it contrasts with the views of my opponent,” Bradshaw said in a release. “We have been a grassroots campaign from the beginning, but we did what many thought was impossible and won the Democratic nomination with a groundswell of energy from volunteers across the state. I invite my opponent to join me in giving Tennesseans what they deserve: an open and honest debate over the issues they care about most.”

The Hagerty camp has been in discussions about a debate with Bradshaw, but has argued against including various independent candidates.

The Memphis Flyer’s Jackson Backer recently reported that an effort by the Nextstar Media Group to put on a U.S. Senate debate had fallen apart. The invitation for the debate, which would have taken place Oct. 14 at WKRN-TV studios in Nashville, included a requirement to have raised $50,000, with at least half coming from in-state donors. That would have been an easy hurdle for Hagerty to clear, although Bradshaw won despite raising just $22,321 through her most recent report. While donations have spiked since she became Tennessee’s first black woman to win a statewide nomination, the next filings aren’t due until Oct. 15.

Nextstar’s other Tennessee stations are in Memphis, Knoxville, Johnson City, and Jackson.

The Flyer reports that candidate Aaron James, one of nine independents appearing on the ballot, cited Federal Election Commission equal time provisions in seeking to be included in the debate.

The AP’s Kimberlee Kruesi reports Bradshaw’s position appears to be a bit of a reversal:

“Do you hope to debate him at some point?” WJHL-TV anchor Josh Smith asked Bradshaw on Sept. 2.

“No,” Bradshaw answered. 

Before that, in an Aug. 22 WKRN-TV interview, Bradshaw told the news station she was also not interested in debating Hagerty because “he used hatred to drive a message of division.” 

Campaign spokesperson Abigail Sigler said Hagerty had no debate “to commit to” because of Bradshaw’s comments saying she wouldn’t participate in a debate and no other Senate candidate was qualified for the Oct. 14 debate.