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Voters Are Being Denied Real Debates in Top CA Races

by Shawn M. Griffiths, published

SAN DIEGO, CALIF. - The Sacramento Bee reported Thursday that US Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Kevin de León will "debate" each other just weeks before the election. Feinstein agreed to the debate after months of demands from her opponent.

Here's the thing: the debate is scheduled for Wednesday, October 17, at noon PT. It will be hosted by the Public Policy Institute of California and will be streamed online.

Critics of Feinstein say she is intentionally trying to limit the number of people who will tune into the debate, and reject the description that it is a "debate" as the candidates will not actually address each other. It will be more of a side-by-side interview by a moderator.

Bill Carrick, a longtime political consultant for Feinstein, defended the campaign calling it a debate, saying that the format will essentially be the same as the single gubernatorial radio debate hosted by KQED.

The setting of the gubernatorial debate was also unusual, as it was aired on Monday, October 8, at 10 am PT on an NPR radio station in San Francisco. Keep in mind, this is the only debate between two candidates vying to hold the highest political office in the world's fifth largest economy.

Many California voters are being denied the opportunity to see top-ticket candidates debate and lay out their policies in races that will come down to voters outside the political parties.

The US Senate race between Feinstein and de León -- both Democrats -- will be decided by not just Republican voters, but No Party Preference voters, the second-largest voting bloc in California at almost 27% of the registered voting population.

According to a poll published on IVN on October 2, approximately 43 percent of likely voters are undecided in this race. This includes around the same percentage of voters registered outside any political party.

The latest survey from the Public Policy Institute of California shows Feinstein 11 points on top of de León, but that lead was cut in half from July.

Millions of voters in California want to hear more from the candidates to make a decision on who will best represent the state of California, and not just their political party. Yet, few will have an opportunity to see anything outside political ads and media coverage.

It's interesting to note the incumbent's decision to meet de León on the same stage comes on the heels of the Kavanaugh confirmation process, of which she was a central figure. According to the Sacramento Bee, this will be the first "debate" Feinstein has participated in since her re-election bid in 2000.

Stay tuned for further coverage on the California race for US Senate and Wednesday's debate.

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