Tom Smart, Deseret News
FILE — Chairman of the Board at Overstock.com, Jonathan Johnson, talks to supporters for his campaign for Utah governor at a kick off party Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2015, in Cottonwood Heights. Johnson says he's debating a Democratic lawmaker because Gov. Gary Herbert won't debate him this year ahead of the 2016 election.

SALT LAKE CITY — A Republican candidate for governor says he's debating a Democratic lawmaker because Gov. Gary Herbert won't debate him this year ahead of the 2016 election.

Jonathan Johnson, the chairman of Overstock.com's board, said Tuesday that he and Democratic state Sen. Jim Dabakis will debate four times, starting in December.

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Dabakis says he is not running for governor but says the debates will be a good platform to voice Democratic positions on issues in Utah.

Johnson said in September that both he and Republican Herbert have been invited to participate in debates this year, but the governor declined.

Johnson campaign spokeswoman Sasha Clark says Dabakis volunteered to debate Johnson after hearing that the governor would not.

Herbert campaign spokesman Marty Carpenter says the governor is doing the job voters elected him to do and will campaign next year.

— Associated Press