HUTCHINSON — U.S. Rep. Tim Huelskamp and his Republican primary election challenger Roger Marshall will square off in their first head-to-head debate June 27 in Hutchinson.
The event will take place in Hutchinson Community College’s Stringer Fine Arts Center, situated east of Gowans Stadium on East 11th Avenue. Doors will open at 5:30 p.m., and the debate will begin at 6 p.m. and run until 7:30 p.m. It will be carried live on The Hutchinson News’ Facebook and Twitter sites.
“We are excited to finally debate Mr. Huelskamp,” said a statement from the Marshall campaign.
Huelskamp’s campaign manager Jim Keady said the congressman has a “proven conservative record” and he “looks forward to contrasting that record with his opponent’s liberal positions.”
In early January, the Dickinson County Farm Bureau Association sponsored a Saturday morning forum in Abilene with Huelskamp, Marshall and Alan LaPolice, who also was running at the time to be the Republican nominee. Since then, LaPolice decided to run as an independent on the November election ballot. That leaves Huelskamp, Fowler/Hutchinson, and Marshall, a Great Bend physician, battling in the GOP Aug. 2 primary. No Democrat is running, but Hutchinson Libertarian candidate Kerry Burt will appear on the November ballot, too.
Fort Hays State University’s associate professor of political science Joe Romance said “things are speeding up, in general” ahead of the election. People are seeing campaign television ads and signs for Huelskamp and Marshall, he said.
“A debate is a chance for candidates to get their message out,” Romance said.
The debate also will showcase the difference of styles, Romance noted.
The Hutchinson/Reno County Chamber of Commerce and the Hutchinson News are co-sponsoring the debate. Chamber President and Chief Executive Officer Jason Ball will act as moderator, and questions will be asked by a panel of two or three people, including Hutchinson News Managing Editor Ron Sylvester.
Candidates will make opening and closing statements. During the Q&A, the candidate answering first will be given time for rebuttal after hearing his opponent’s response. Ball said they will rotate between the candidates when asking questions. Candidates will be given a limited time to respond, in order to keep the debate moving.
“We’re trying to keep it kind of rapid,” Ball said, so more topics can be covered, he said.
Ball said the candidates have busy schedules and scheduling “was the hardest part” in organizing the event.
“I was encouraged that both expressed an interest in participating,” Ball said.