Democrat Anthony G. Brown and Republican Larry Hogan will meet Tuesday in their first televised debate in an increasingly vitriolic campaign for governor.
The hourlong encounter, sponsored by The Baltimore Sun and WJZ-TV, will be taped in the morning and broadcast at 7 p.m. on Channel 13 and Maryland Public Television.
It comes amid a sharply negative campaign, with Brown running ads portraying his rival as a hard-right conservative on social issues and Hogan branding the lieutenant governor a liar.
The exchanges over the issues of abortion and guns have diverted Hogan from his core economic message that Maryland has become a "horrible" place to do business because of taxation and regulations.
The race to succeed term-limited Gov. Martin O'Malley is seen as increasingly competitive. Last week, the Cook Political Report moved the race from its "Solid Democratic" category to "Leans Democratic."
A poll published online Monday by The Washington Post showed Brown with a 9-point lead, 47 percent to 38 percent, with 11 percent of voters still undecided.
Hogan is seeking to overcome the Democrats' 2-1 advantage in voter registration and recapture the energy of 2002 that helped propel his former boss, Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., to the first Republican victory in a Maryland governor's race in more than three decades.
Brown is trying to become the first lieutenant governor to step up to Maryland's highest office and the first African-American to hold that job.
The campaigns have also agreed to two other televised debates between the candidates for governor.
The Washington Post, WTOP Radio and NewsChannel 8 will co-sponsor the second debate, which will be taped at 10 a.m. Monday and televised at 8 p.m. on Channel 8, WJLA-TV in Washingtonand Channel 45, WBFF in Baltimore. Maryland Public Television plans to rebroadcast it next Tuesday at 7 p.m.
The final debate will be recorded at 4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 18 and will be shown at 7 p.m. that night on MPT and co-sponsor WBAL-TV, Channel 11. The debate is being co-produced with WBOC in Salisbury and WHAG in Hagerstown.
Brown's running mate, Howard County Executive Ken Ulman, and Hogan's lieutenant governor candidate, former Ehrlich administration Cabinet secretary Boyd Rutherford, have agreed to a radio debate on WAMU-FM in Washington, but no date has been announced.