BY WESLEY P. HESTER
Let the fun begin.
The morning after former Gov. George Allen easily won the Republican U.S. Senate nomination, his opponent, Democratic nominee Timothy M. Kaine’s campaign announced that it had accepted eight — yes, eight – broadcast debate invitations.
In addition to the eight TV and radio debates, Kaine has also accepted the Virginia Bar Association’s July 21 debate at The Homestead in Hot Springs.
“The stakes in this election are extremely high and all Virginians deserve an opportunity to hear directly from the candidates on issues of regional, state, and national importance,” said Kaine campaign spokeswoman Brandi Hoffine.
“Our priority is to participate in enough broadcast debates so that all Virginians get a chance to compare the candidates side-by-side,” she added. “We look forward to working with George Allen’s campaign to make sure that happens.”
The Allen campaign noted that they were not contacted by the Kaine campaign until after a press release was sent out early Wednesday morning.
“In addition to meeting with Virginians face to face throughout the commonwealth, we of course look forward to debates this fall to contrast our records,” said Allen campaign spokeswoman Emily Davis.
She added that the campaign will announce debate commitments in coming weeks.
The debates Kaine has agreed to are:
* Radio One 2012 Senatorial Forum: Richmond, Late August (date and venue TBD). Broadcast on Radio One stations (TV broadcast TBD).
* WJLA-TV, POLITICO & Virginia FREE: Arlington Campus, George Mason University. September 14. Broadcast live on WJLA in DC, and available to ABC affiliates throughout Virginia.
* Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce & NBC4: Capital One Tysons Corner Complex, McLean. September 20. Broadcast live on NBC 4 in DC, and rebroadcast on Sunday, September 23.
* Randolph-Macon College, The Richmond Times Dispatch & the Virginia Chamber of Commerce: Randolph-Macon College, Ashland. October Date TBD. Broadcast on media partners WWBT NBC-12 and WCVE Community Ideas Stations in Richmond.
* WSLS-TV and Virginia Tech: Virginia Tech campus, Blacksburg. October date TBD. Broadcast live on WSLS-TV and made available to other television stations statewide.
* Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce: Norfolk, October 18 or 19 (TBD). Broadcast live on WVEC-TV (ABC affiliate) and to be rebroadcast at a later date TBD.
* League of Women Voters of Virginia & AARP Virginia: WCVE Studios, Midlothian. October 8. Broadcast on CBS-6 in Richmond and WCVE-TV (PBS).
* Virginia State Conference NAACP: Fredericksburg, October 26. Broadcast on WWBT NBC-12 in Richmond.