DETROIT (WWJ/AP) — After much wrangling, a debate, of sorts, has been scheduled between Michigan Governor Rick Snyder and Democratic challenger Mark Schauer.

The two have agreed to make a joint appearance at a Town Hall meeting on Sunday, October 12 which will be televised on Detroit Public Television.

WWJ Lansing Bureau Chief Tim Skubick said that this appears to be a case of candidate Schauer taking what he can get.

“The major difference between a Town Hall meeting is that most of the questions will come from the studio audience,” Skubick said. “Mr. Schauer will be there because he’s not going to get what’s traditionally known as a toe-to-toe debate with the Governor, as the Governor is basically saying, ‘It’s a Town Hall, or nothing,’ and that’s what it will be in Detroit on Oct. 12.”

The latest polls — just six weeks away from election day — show both Governor Snyder and Mark Schauer in a virtual statistical “dead heat” among likely Michigan voters.

Voters will ask questions along with Free Press editorial page editor Stephen Henderson and News editorial page editor Nolan Finley. WTVS anchor Christy McDonald will host the town hall that will be televised live on the PBS station and made available to all other Michigan media outlets to air or webcast live or at another time.

“Rick Snyder is committed to engaging directly with voters,” Snyder campaign spokeswoman Emily Benavides said.

Schauer’s debate negotiator, Dianne Byrum, said the campaign was excited about the debate and “optimistic” more would be scheduled.

The debate is separate from 10 town hall-style campaign events Snyder announced last week and that were still being planned.

“We congratulate both men for taking this step, which is so important to voters and to the democratic process,” Free Press publisher and editor Paul Anger said in a statement.

“The interests of voters are better served when they can compare the candidates side by side, for themselves, rather than be at the mercy of the endless barrage of campaign advertising,” News editor and publisher Jon Wolman said in a statement.

The Snyder campaign — which avoided calling the event a “debate” — said it will be free-flowing, with no opening statements and no exact time constraints on candidates’ answers.

The Schauer campaign countered that it is a debate that was “carefully negotiated.”

In 2010, Snyder and Democratic challenger Virg Bernero held one debate. Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm and Republican opponent Dick DeVos had three in 2006.

Organizers of the Snyder-Schauer forum encouraged viewers to participate on Twitter by using the hashtag #mitownhall.


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