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Johnson, Barnes agree to one televised debate

Senator Ron Johnson talks with constituents after a town hall in Boulder Junction.
Erin Gottsacker
Senator Ron Johnson talks with constituents after a town hall in Boulder Junction.

Republican U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson and his Democratic challenger, Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, have agreed to one televised debate ahead of the Nov. 8 election.

Johnson and Barnes on Friday both agreed to an Oct. 13 debate in Milwaukee hosted by WTMJ-TV. Johnson, a two-term incumbent, said he also agreed to televised debates hosted by the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association and WISN-TV in Milwaukee.

Barnes said he had agreed to appear at a forum hosted by the Main Street Alliance and the Wisconsin Farmers Union, groups that typically align with Democrats.

Typically, challengers to incumbents like to debate as many times as possible in order to raise their profile and get more earned media. It is unusual for an incumbent to agree to more televised debates than a challenger.

Johnson accused Barnes of hiding from him.

“Depending on what we can agree on, I’d do three,” the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported Johnson as saying. “I’d do three. I’ll do two. I’ll do one. I can’t force the other guy out of hiding.”

In the governor's race, Democratic Gov. Tony Evers and Republican challenger Tim Michels are debating just one time on Oct. 14. That debate is being hosted in Madison by the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association.

A Marquette University Law School poll released on Wednesday showed both races to be about even.

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