LANSING (WWJ) – As campaign season heats up in Michigan, Gov. Rick Snyder has announced a series of town hall meetings, open to the media and the public.

The governor’s campaign announced Wednesday that the meetings will begin in Kalamazoo toward the end of this month, then head to Sterling Heights, Detroit, and elsewhere across the state.

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“This is clearly the governor’s most favorite format to take questions from citizens — not necessarily from journalists — and so there is nothing in this announcement about a debate with Mark Schauer,” said WWJ Lansing Bureau Chief Tim Skubick.

The news of what Snyder’s calling the “Road to Recovery: The Next Four Years” Town Hall Tour comes as Schauer, Snyder’s Democratic challenger, had been awaiting an answer from the governor about debates.

Schauer had wanted five debates, with the lieutenant governor included, but Skubick says that’s probably not going to happen.

However, Skubick said, a source tells him that Gov. Snyder would not object to Schauer appearing at any of these town hall meetings, if that’s something he’d like to do.

The Week 1 Town Hall schedule is as follows:

Monday, Sept. 29
Location: Kalamazoo
Program Time: 7:30 p.m.
—————

Thursday, Oct.  2
Location: Sterling Heights
Program Time: 7:30 p.m.
—————

Saturday, Oct. 4
Location: Detroit
Program Time: 5:30 p.m.

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Additional meetings will be announced at a later date.

“I look forward to talking with voters regarding the issues facing Michiganders today, our accomplishments over the last four years, and my plans for the next four years,” Snyder said, in a media release. “With my optimistic message of nearly 300,000 new private sector jobs, the lowest unemployment rate in six years, four balanced on-time budgets in four years and an increased investment in education, it’s clear that Michigan is on the road to recovery. This tour is about communicating that message and hearing from the citizens of Michigan.”

Meantime, Schauer campaign spokeswoman Cathy Bacile Cunningham says they’re still hoping for at least one debate.

“We’re calling for evening televised debates so more voters will be able to see the candidates standing side by side on a stage to debate the issues that matter to them and their families,” she told WWJ’s Russ McNamara.

In response to that, Snyder spokesman Kal Robertson says, “The Schauer folks are just playing games, and we’re past the games. We wanna speak directly to the voters; and we’re gonna lay these (town hall meetings) out and we’re gonna come to them.”

According to Robertson, two debate dates were offered to the Schauer campaign and were turned down. An aide for Schauer says the democratic challenger asked for an alternate date and was turned down.

Why would a candidate shy away from a debate?

Pollster Bernie Porn of EPIC-MRA told WWJ that sometimes a candidate is fearful of his or her performance, compared to what an opponent may be able to offer.

“I think it’s always best to debate,” Porn said. “And if I had a candidate that I was worried about, I would spend day and night working with that candidate to try and make them better at debates, because I always think that it’s better to not appear as though you are fearful of debates.”

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Porn said the governor’s races looks like a close one at this point, with some inconsistent poll results. While recent EPIC-MRA and USA Today had Schauer up by two points, most other polls had Snyder up by one or two points.