NEWS

Editorial: More Senate seat debates needed

Staff Writer
Mount Shasta Herald

The four Democrats vying for the nomination to fill Sen. Ted Kennedy's seat in a primary just a few weeks away squared off again Thursday, but you had to be listening to a Boston radio station in the morning to hear it. You had to be in the audience for a Boston Chamber of Commerce event last month when the candidates first shared a stage. And you had to be in the eastern part of the state to watch the campaign's only prime-time debate, a face-off at the Kennedy Library Oct. 26.

So far, that's it. No more debates are planned, though several of the candidates call for more at every opportunity. As is typical in the campaign debate dance, the candidate leading in the polls, Attorney General Martha Coakley, is seen as resisting more debates, while the candidates with the lowest name recognition, Steve Pagliuca and Alan Khazei, have been issuing the loudest challenges.

A similar dance is being played out on the Republican side, with the front-runner, state Sen. Scott Brown, refusing to debate perennial candidate Jack E. Robinson. Brown has rejected an invitation for a debate to be held at the John F. Kennedy Library, citing the "partisan" nature of the location, an excuse both lame and insulting.

It's all predictable and silly, and while all such debates about debates are self-serving, they can be self-defeating as well. This is a rare election, the first time Massachusetts voters have faced an open U.S. Senate race in 25 years. But none of the candidates has caught fire, and the campaign has hardly captured the public imagination. It will be tough enough to get a good turnout for a special primary election in the first week of December.

Voters need a better look at these candidates than they've been able to get so far, and the candidates need to do something to draw the spotlight. There is less than a month to go before the Dec. 8 primary. Candidates must stop playing games and schedule more live, prime-time debates.

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