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Schatz, Hanabusa agree to 5 Senate primary debates

    U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz

U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa and U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz on Tuesday said they have agreed to five primary debates in their race to complete the term of the late U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye.

Both candidates said separately they agreed to participate in three shared events in July and two others with dates to be determined. Three of the debates are to be televised statewide, while a fourth will air on Hawaii Public Radio.

The state’s primary election is in August.

Hanabusa’s campaign said in a statement she is also committed to three additional forums, including one next week on Oahu’s west side.

"I look forward to the opportunity to speak directly with the voters about our work to build an economy that works for all of our families," Schatz said in a statement. "These forums and debates will give the people of Hawaii the chance to hear firsthand about how we are fighting for Hawaii values in Washington."

Hanabusa’s campaign spokesman Peter Boylan says the campaign is happy Schatz took her up on her offer to debate. Hanabusa previously asked Schatz for 12 debates in a November letter.

"The voters deserve the chance to hear from Colleen and Brian, as often as they can, in order to assess who has the skill set, resume, and heart necessary to represent our Hawaii in the United States Senate," Boylan said.

It will be the first election for the seat since Inouye’s death. It was Inouye’s dying wish for Hanabusa to succeed him, but Gov. Neil Abercrombie appointed Schatz, who was Hawaii’s lieutenant governor at the time.

The winner of the Democratic primary is expected to cruise in the general election in November, with no major Republican candidates contesting the seat.

The first debate will be hosted by the Kauai Chamber of Commerce on July 1 on Kauai. The second, hosted by Hawaii Public Radio and the Hawaii Island Chamber of Commerce, will be held on the Big Island on July 2. A third will be held in Honolulu on July 15, hosted by KHON and AARP.

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