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Brown, Hogan agree to a first debate

The two men vying to become Maryland's next governor have agreed to an hourlong televised debate in early October, reaching a deal after more than a month of uncertainty about when — and whether — the pair would face off.

Democrat Anthony G. Brown and Republican Larry Hogan said Wednesday they have agreed to an Oct. 7 debate hosted by The Baltimore Sun and WJZ-TV, which will be taped in the morning and aired statewide that night.

Behind the scenes, the campaigns are still wrangling over details of a television debate in the Washington region and a radio debate.

"One debate is a start. It is by no means enough," said Hogan's campaign spokesman, Adam Dubitsky.

In early July, Brown's unusual move of releasing a debate proposal without first consulting his opponent created a flap.

Hogan, a Cabinet secretary under former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., has criticized Brown, the lieutenant governor, for dodging opportunities to debate him in public.

Dubitsky said Hogan agreed to four other television and two radio debates to which Brown has not, and said that in several forums Brown has refused to share a stage with Hogan.

"The people of Maryland's underserved communities deserve more than a stump speech from someone who wants to be their governor," Dubitsky said.

Brown's camp contends that his proposal for two televised debates, a radio debate and a separate debate among lieutenant governor candidates is a schedule similar to those in the 2010 and 2006 races for governor.

As for sharing a stage with Hogan at forums, Brown's campaign manager, Justin Schall, said the one-candidate-at-a-time format worked for the Democratic primary and he sees no reason to abandon it for the general election.

That format will be employed next week at the annual Maryland Association of Counties conference in Ocean City, as well as at a Catonsville retirement community on Aug. 13.

"Over a month ago, we announced that there should be four debates," Schall said. "I'm not sure what Larry Hogan's definition of 'ducking' is, but I don't think he understands the meaning of the word."

The bickering over general election debates follows squabbles in both party primaries earlier this year.

Republican candidates criticized Hogan for avoiding public appearances with them, charges Hogan denied. Brown's two Democratic opponents jointly accused him of backing out of an agreement for a third televised debate. Brown's campaign argued there had been no such deal, and his opponents debated without him, an empty lectern bearing Brown's name on stage between them.

Just three months remain until the Nov. 4 election. Libertarian candidate Shawn Quinn is also on the ballot.

ecox@baltsun.com

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