SACRAMENTO, Calif.–With less than two months until Election Day, California's two gubernatorial contenders remained locked in a standoff over whether they'll meet to discuss the issues facing the state.
The debate over debates marked a new chapter this week when plans for an Oct. 1 faceoff hosted by CNN fell apart, a network source confirmed on Tuesday. Democratic candidate Gavin Newsom had agreed to that debate, while Republican John Cox had not committed, expressing concerns about the event's format and moderators.
Cox, who agreed to four other debates that Newsom declined, said last week he would participate in the CNN debate only if it focused on housing, cost of living, water and other California-specific issues, and if a California journalist was included as a moderator. Newsom's campaign said Cox was trying to limit the scope of questions asked.
As both campaigns point fingers about how the CNN debate sputtered, another potential venue has emerged: a debate hosted by KQED, the San Francisco-based public radio station. Newsom has accepted the station's invitation and KQED is working with both campaigns to nail down a date.
"Gavin has said a number of times on the campaign trail that he wants to debate ahead of Election Day, as he has nine times previously in this campaign," Newsom campaign spokesman Nathan Click said in a statement Tuesday. "That's why our campaign has accepted a debate invitation from KQED radio, one of the last outstanding debate requests that neither campaign has rejected. If Cox is serious about debating, he should accept this final debate offer."
The Cox campaign, meanwhile, says it's up to Newsom whether the two rivals will meet for a debate.
"Newsom never really wanted to talk to forgotten Californians – but now he has to, because he's flailing in the polls," said Matt Shupe, spokesman for the Cox campaign. "We're glad to see Newsom finally accept debates we've been proposing for two months."