Debate with Hogan, Jealous to go ahead with original panel after flap over Democrat's veto

The lone debate scheduled between Republican Gov. Larry Hogan and Democratic nominee Ben Jealous will go ahead as planned Monday after the Jealous campaign dropped its veto of a western Maryland newspaper’s statehouse reporter as a panelist.

Now, Tamela Baker of The Herald-Mail in Hagerstown is back as a questioner. And The Baltimore Sun, which had said it was reconsidering its participation over concern about allowing candidates to choose the reporters who question them, will take part.

The Maryland-Delaware-District of Columbia Press Association, which objected Tuesday to the Jealous campaign’s action, welcomed the reversal.

“Public officials — and candidates — need to be accountable to the public,” the association said Wednesday in a statement. “That accountability creates strong government transparency and builds trust for constituents.”

Under the rules for the debate negotiated by the Hogan and Jealous campaigns, either side could veto the agreed-upon media outlets’ choices of their representatives. The Jealous campaign moved to block Baker, a strike it declined to explain.

Sun editor-in-chief and publisher Trif Alatzas then said The Sun was reconsidering its participation in the debate. In addition to Baker, Sun reporter Pamela Wood, reporter Ovetta Wiggins of The Washington Post and reporter/anchor Ryan Eldredge of WMDT-TV in Salisbury were on the panel.

With the reversal, the original panel members will question the candidates. Jake Womer, executive editor of the Herald-Mail, said Baker would represent the paper rather than a reporter the paper had designated to replace her.

“I’m glad that the Jealous campaign corrected its course, and we appreciate the stance taken by The Baltimore Sun and the [Maryland-Delaware-District of Columbia Press Association], as well,” he said.

In a statement Tuesday night, Jealous senior adviser Kevin Harris said the campaign had no objections to Baker as a questioner.

The debate Monday will be the only head-to-head, televised encounter between Hogan and Jealous before the Nov. 6 election. It is hosted by Maryland Public Television, which will tape the debate Monday morning and air it that night.

mdresser@baltsun.com

twitter.com/michaeltdresser

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