News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Max Jones

August 23, 2008

MAX JONES: Voters will be big winners in fall gubernatorial debates

TERRE HAUTE — Twice in September and once in October, Indiana voters will have an opportunity to participate in and witness, in person or via electronic media, debates among the state’s three candidates for governor.

Gubernatorial debates are not new here, but this year’s debates will be different because of unprecedented efforts by the newly formed Indiana Debate Commission.

Incorporated in the fall of 2007, the Indiana Debate Commission is a nonpartisan group of affiliate organizations dedicated to promoting debates at the state level. The IDC’s board of directors has been setting groundwork for this year’s debates since February 2007, and has spent the past five months working with candidates and potential debate officials to select locations and a schedule that will serve the largest possible number of Hoosier voters.

As the IDC has gone about its work, the support, interest and enthusiasm shown around the state for hosting the debates have been remarkable. More than a dozen sites submitted applications to become debate venues. Among them were public universities, a private college, a parochial school and a commercial enterprise. All were visited by teams of board members and volunteers. The goal is to conduct a debate in each of three regions (north, central and south); each produced excellent potential sites.

Reviewing and assessing potential venues during site visits was a painstaking process that was enhanced by the professionalism demonstrated by our applicant hosts. Their commitment to offering the best facilities and services available reinforced our belief that this cause has great merit and will produce valued results.

After several weeks of consideration and analysis, the IDC on Aug. 8 announced its debate lineup. All three candidates — Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels, Democratic nominee Jill Long Thompson, and Libertarian Andrew Horning — have accepted our proposed schedule.

The first debate will be Tuesday, Sept. 16, at the Star Theatre in Merrillville. The second will be the following Tuesday, Sept. 23, at the Jasper Arts Center in Jasper. The third will be Tuesday, Oct. 14, at IU Auditorium on the campus of Indiana University-Bloomington.

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