Update 2:46 p.m.: Lowder issued a second statement today saying the Party would be open to organizing debate if all candidates in both primaries indicated they were interested in participating.
The California Republican Party put to rest a push for the GOP gubernatorial and Senate candidates to face off in debates at the party's convention next month.
"A series of discussions on convention debates were held at the staff level with statewide campaigns in recent months; however, no formal invitations were extended," California Republican Party Chief Operating Officer Brent Lowder said in a statement. "After recent internal discussion, the CRP has decided not to make any changes to the 2010 Spring Convention agenda involving debates."
GOP guv-hopeful Steve Poizner has long been calling for the candidates to face off in front of party delegates at the convention, which runs March 12-14. U.S. Senate candidate Chuck DeVore had also been pushing for a convention debate.
Poizner's rival Meg Whitman has accepted an invitation to participate in a debate the day after the convention hosted by a Republican group called New Majority. The Poizner campaign hasn't committed, but sent a letter to organizers earlier this week raising concerns about the debate structure and whether it would be broadcast.
Update 11:15 a.m.: The Poizner campaign responded to CRP's announcement with another call for a convention debate.
"Let's give the people what they want to see! With the exception of Meg Whitman and her loyalists, just about every delegate, reporter, or anyone with a pulse wants to see democracy in action with a debate at the GOP convention, so let's just have one,"Communications Director Jarrod Agen said in a statement. "A Republican candidate for governor who is scared to debate in front of hundreds of diehard Republicans will have no chance in a general election against Jerry Brown."
Update 2:48 p.m.:
Whitman spokeswoman Sarah Pompei wrote in an e-mail that Poizner's repeated calls for a debate are "over-the-top rants" that signal a campaign "that's facing irrelevance."
"If Steve Poizner is truly interested in debating, than he should spare everyone the theatrics and simply show up to the March 15th debate in Orange County. If he wants to debate, it's easy, just show up," she wrote.