SALT LAKE CITY — For the first time, the Utah Debate Commission is hosting three primary debates, including between U.S. Senate candidates Mitt Romney, a former GOP presidential nominee, and state Rep. Mike Kennedy, R-Alpine.
The debate between the two contenders for the Republican nomination in the race to take the place of retiring Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, will be held May 29 at 6 p.m. at the KBYU Studios on the Brigham Young University campus in Provo.
Earlier that day, debates will also be held between Rep. John Curtis, R-Utah, and former GOP state lawmaker Chris Herrod in the 3rd Congressional District race, and between Democrats Lee Castillo and Kurt Weiland in the 1st Congressional District.
Curtis, who defeated Herrod in last year's primary in the special election to fill the vacancy left by former Rep. Jason Chaffetz, will debate Herrod at 2 p.m. Castillo and Weiland, vying to replace Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, square off at 10 a.m.
"These groundbreaking debates will help voters make an informed decision, and there is nothing like a spirited debate to help voters make a choice," the commission's co-chairman, Scott Howell, said.
Nena Slighting, the debate commission's executive director, said having three debates on the same day is also a first.
"It just turned out that it works for everybody. So we decided to just try it," Slighting said. "It's going one busy day."
The primary election is June 26. The debates will be streamed online and broadcast by local TV stations.
Romney, the Republican party's pick for president in 2012 and a former Massachusetts governor, has attracted national attention in his bid for the Utah Senate seat. His campaign had no comment about the primary debate.
Kennedy, the top pick of GOP delegates at last month's state convention, said in a statement he is "looking forward to the opportunity to share my platform, vision, and extensive record of serving Utahns as a family doctor and as a state legislator."
The commission has also released a debate schedule for the Nov. 6 general election. All of the hourlong debates in the general election races will begin at 6 p.m. and could include third-party candidates if they meet a certain threshold in the polls.
The U.S. Senate debate that will include the winner of the June GOP primary and the Democratic nominee, Salt Lake County Councilwoman Jenny Wilson, is set for Oct. 9 at Southern Utah University.Comment on this story
The 2nd Congressional District debate on Sept. 17 at Dixie State University will include Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah, and Democrat Shireen Ghorbani. The 4th Congressional District debate on Oct. 15 at Salt Lake Community College will include Rep. Mia Love, R-Utah, and Democratic Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams.
The 1st Congressional District debate on Oct. 17 at Utah State University will include Bishop and the Democratic primary winner. The 3rd Congressional District debate on Oct. 23 at Utah Valley University will include Democrat James Singer and the winner of the Republican primary.