PARKERSBURG - It's too early to tell if there'll be a debate organized by the West Virginia Press Association this year between senatorial candidates, the executive director of the association said Wednesday.
"We're just sending out (inquiries) to see if it's a possibility," WVPA Executive Director Don Smith said.
Sen. Joe Manchin's campaign on Tuesday issued a statement saying it was working with the association on organizing a debate, possibly in October. Manchin is running against Republican John Raese.
"It's a little premature," Smith said.
The association, which contains every newspapers in West Virginia, has never organized debates in the past, said Smith.
Much has yet to be done for there to be a debate this election cycle, he said. The aim is for debates to be organized for the major races, he said.
For example, among the possibilities being discussed is an online way for residents to watch the debate, Smith said.
"That may not be a reality in this election," he said.
The next election will afford more time to organize a debate, Smith said.
Besides the U.S. Senate and President of the United States, also on the ballot statewide in November are the offices of governor, secretary of state, commissioner of agriculture, auditor, treasurer, attorney general and state Supreme Court. Also on the ballot are the U.S. House of Representatives, the state House of Delegates and the state Senate.
The Manchin-Raese campaign is a repeat of the 2010 special election when Manchin was elected to succeed the late Robert C. Byrd, who died in office. Raese, who runs the Greer family holdings in Morgantown, generally is agreeable to any debates, a spokesman said on Tuesday.
The election for governor also is a repeat of the 2011 contest between Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and Bill Maloney of Morgantown in a special election for governor.