Rutherford accepts Ulman's debate challenge

The candidates for lieutenant governor agreed on Wednesday to debate one another, but reached no deal on when or where the political showdown would be.

 A day after settling on the final televised debate schedule for Republican Larry Hogan and Democrat Anthony G. Brown, Brown's campaign renewed the challenge to have the running mates face off.

Howard County Executive Ken Ulman, Brown's running mate, on Wednesday morning issued a statement that voters "deserve the opportunity to hear from the Lt. Governor candidates in a debate." Ulman then threw in some partisan attack lines, saying,there is a "clear choice between Lt. Governor Brown’s vision to fight for working families and Larry Hogan’s conservative Republican agenda. Larry Hogan’s entire strategy has been to hide his right-wing views from voters, and he's afraid that his backward agenda will be further exposed during this fall's debates.”

Republican Boyd Rutherford, a former Ehrlich cabinent secretary, is running with Hogan. He accepted the debate challenge Wednesday afternoon and shot back with his own set of partisan talking points. 

“I look forward to debating Ken on the challenges facing Maryland’s struggling families, retirees and employers," Rutherford said in a statement. "The choice this November is clear:  Reigning in reckless spending, rolling back this administration’s massive tax hikes and restoring integrity to Annapolis, or, electing two career politicians committed to four more years O’Malley and Brown’s job killing tax and spend policies.”

The challenge continues the unusual debate negotiation tactic deployed by Democrats this year. In most contests, debates are worked out behind the scenes and unveiled publicly.  In July, Brown's campaign publicly released its preferred debate schedule without consulting its opponent.

Both camps have used the debate controversy to accuse the other of ducking issues.

Hogan's campaign has pushed for a greater number of televised town-hall debates across the state.  Yesterday, the campaigns formally agreed to a final televised debate on Oct. 18, which sets up a flurry of three debates scheduled over just 11 days.

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