The two candidates in one of the country’s most competitive Senate races have no plans to debate before Election Day, making the contest an anomaly among battleground states this year.
With less than four weeks until the Nov. 8 election, neither Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto nor her Republican challenger, Adam Laxalt, have given any sign of breaking a stalemate over whether they would meet face to face on stage.
Asked whether her campaign expected her to debate Laxalt, a spokesman for Cortez Masto said Wednesday: “We do not, unfortunately.”
Each campaign claimed it was the other side’s fault.
“The senator was eager to debate and accepted three statewide debates that, unfortunately, her opponent decided he would not participate in,” Cortez Masto’s spokesman Josh Marcus Blank said.
In a recent statement, Laxalt said his opponent was to blame.
“I have accepted televised, statewide debate offers with two respected, neutral Nevada media outlets: Sinclair Broadcast Group, which runs the Las Vegas and Reno NBC Stations, and Nevada Newsmakers,” Laxalt said. “We hope that Catherine Cortez Masto will stop hiding and agree to at least one of them.”
With a series of recent polls showing the candidates locked in a dead heat, neither can afford to make a gaffe on the debate stage that could turn off just a small fraction of the electorate. Cortez Masto is considered the most vulnerable incumbent among Senate Democrats seeking re-election.
The outcome of the Nevada race could determine the balance of power in the Senate for the next two years, making it all the more unusual that voters are unlikely to see the two candidates face off in public.
Arizona Senate candidates met last week, while Georgia Senate hopefuls square off Friday. In Wisconsin, Republican Sen. Ron Johnson and Democratic Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes will meet this week for their second debate. Senate candidates in Ohio and North Carolina have already debated, while debates are scheduled for the candidates in Florida, Pennsylvania and New Hampshire.
In June, Cortez Masto committed to three debates, one of which was to be broadcast on Spanish-language TV. The campaign said all three debates have officially been canceled.