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Brown, Hogan agree to third TV debate

Democrat Anthony G. Brown and Republican Larry Hogan have agreed to a third televised debate in the race for governor, WBAL-TV in Baltimore confirmed Tuesday.

WBAL news director Michelle Butt said both campaigns have accepted an invitation to meet Oct. 18 for a debate that will be taped at 4 p.m. and aired at 7 p.m. on Channel 11.

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Butt said WBAL will produce the debate in partnership with Maryland Public Television, WBOC in Salisbury and WHAG in Hagerstown. The other stations will be free to broadcast the debate live or at another time they choose, she said.

The two campaigns previously agreed to debate Oct. 7 on WJZ in Baltimore and Oct. 13 in Washington. The Baltimore Sun is a host of the first debate. The second debate will be hosted by The Washington Post, WTOP and NewsChannel 8.

The candidates have sparred publicly over the number of debates to be scheduled and their format, with Hogan accusing Brown of ducking confrontation and refusing to appear on the same stage. The Brown campaign originally proposed two televised and one radio debate for the gubernatorial candidates, with another debate between Brown running mate Ken Ulman, the Howard County executive, and Hogan running mate Boyd Rutherford, like Hogan a former Ehrlich administration Cabinet secretary.

With the agreement on a third televised debate, Maryland voters will have more opportunities to see the gubernatorial candidates go head-to-head than they did in the 2006 and 2010 elections.

Justin Schall, Brown's campaign manager, welcomed the agreement.

"The lieutenant governor thinks that this debate is particularly important because it incorporates TV stations from not only Baltimore, but also the Eastern Shore and Western Maryland," Schall said. "There are very important issues in this campaign facing all three of those communities, and it is great that we will get a chance to address them."

The WBAL debate will be the final televised debate in the campaign, Schall said.

The candidates disagree on whether to hold a radio debate, according to Schall. He said Brown has accepted an invitation to appear on former state Sen. Larry Young's WOLB radio program to debate Hogan.

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"As far as we know, Larry Hogan has refused to agree to it," Schall said.

Hogan's campaign confirmed that the candidate will participate in the WBAL debate but declined to comment further. The Hogan campaign originally accepted WBAL's invitation in July, shortly after it had been extended, but with no specific time set.

For months the Hogan campaign has been calling for five TV debates and two on radio, and had publicly complained that several gubernatorial forums did not allow for more face-to-face exchanges.

John T. Willis, a political scientist at the University of Baltimore, said he didn't see the agreement to take part in a third debate as a concession by Brown. He said it would give the lieutenant governor additional exposure in metropolitan Baltimore.

"People don't know him as well as in Annapolis or the Washington Metro area," Willis said.

Todd Eberly, a political scientist at St. Mary's College, said Hogan will gain from having an opportunity to share the same stage with the lieutenant governor before a statewide audience.

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The Republican will "definitely need those three debates to refute any claims or undo any damage caused by those negative TV ads" against him, Eberly said.

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