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Nevada U.S. Senate debates still uncertain with less than two months to go

Updated September 20, 2022 - 2:49 pm

RENO — With just more than 30 days until early voting opens in Nevada, it’s still unclear whether voters will see U.S. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto and her Republican rival, ex-Attorney General Adam Laxalt, face off in a televised debate.

The odds of a face off in the closely fought and even more closely watched race narrowed Tuesday when one of the debates was officially canceled after Laxalt refused an invitation to participate.

The debate, which was set to be hosted in Reno by KOLO-TV Channel 8, the League of Women Voters and the Reno Gazette Journal, is just one of three debates agreed to by Cortez Masto’s campaign. The senator also accepted invitations to debates hosted by Vegas PBS/Nevada Public Radio, scheduled for Oct. 13, and KLAS-TV Channel 8, scheduled for Oct. 20.

Laxalt has agreed to debates at KSNV-TV Channel 3 and Nevada Newsmakers.

Neither seems willing to budge, however. Laxalt’s campaign accused the senator of “hiding.”

“We have accepted televised, statewide debate offers with two respected, neutral Nevada media outlets. We hope that Catherine Cortez Masto will stop hiding and agree to at least one of them,” Laxalt campaign spokesman Brian Freimuth said in a statement.

Cortez Masto’s campaign slammed Laxalt for “ducking” the debates.

“It’s clear Adam Laxalt cannot defend his record of cashing in with a longtime D.C. lobbyist, trying to overturn the 2020 election, and attacking a woman’s right to choose,” said Cortez Masto campaign spokesman Josh Marcus-Blank. “Laxalt is ducking debates, just like he did during his failed run for governor.”

The situation is a repeat of 2018, when Laxalt ran against then-Clark County Commissioner Steve Sisolak. Laxalt and Sisolak accepted debate invitations at different outlets, but since they did not agree on a venue, none of those debates happened.

It wasn’t the only debate to be canceled Monday. Two planned debates between Sheriff Joe Lombardo and Gov. Steve Sisolak, one hosted by KOLO and the Reno Gazette-Journal and the other by KLAS, were canned after the hosts received no response from Lombardo.

Sisolak campaign spokesperson Natalie Gould accused Lombardo of “running from his record.”

“This is yet another example of Joe Lombardo running from his record, hiding his out-of-touch stances and keeping Nevadans in the dark at all costs,” she said in a statement. “While Governor Sisolak believes Nevadans deserve multiple opportunities to hear from their candidates, he looks forward to holding Lombardo accountable on October 2nd.”

The Oct. 2 debate, hosted by The Nevada Independent, is the only debate Sisolak and Lombardo have mutually agreed to participate in at this time.

Contact Taylor R. Avery at TAvery@reviewjournal.com. Follow @travery98 on Twitter.

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