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Prairie Public not expecting to reschedule Heitkamp-Cramer debate

North Dakota Republican Rep. Kevin Cramer, left, and Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp. File photos / Forum News Service

BISMARCK — Prairie Public officials are no longer expecting to reschedule the Friday, Oct. 5, debate between Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp and Republic Rep. Kevin Cramer.

The debate was postponed because the Senate was set to vote on now-Justice Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation to the U.S. Supreme Court. Heitkamp announced she would oppose Kavanaugh the day before the scheduled debate, and the Senate confirmed him on Saturday.

Matt Olien, a producer at Prairie Public, said Thursday they offered dates before the Nov. 6 election, but Cramer's camp said he was too busy.

"Heitkamp's people ... they definitely want to reschedule," Olien said. "The ball's in the Cramer camp's court."

A Heitkamp campaign spokeswoman accused Cramer of "leaping at the opportunity to wiggle out" of the debate. A Cramer spokesman said finding another date would "very challenging" with a packed campaign schedule, including a KVLY town hall Friday night.

The two candidates are scheduled to participate in separate, one-hour telephone town halls hosted by AARP North Dakota. Cramer's will be held at 7 p.m. Tuesday, while Heitkamp's is scheduled for 5:45 p.m. Oct. 22. Participants can sign up for the town halls through the AARP North Dakota website.

Without the Prairie Public debate, the candidates are slated for two matchups before the election. The first will be hosted by the North Dakota Newspaper Association Oct. 18 in Bismarck and will be broadcast via livestream on Forum Communications Co. websites. They'll meet again for a North Dakota Broadcasters Association debate Oct. 26 in Fargo.

John Hageman

John Hageman covers North Dakota politics from the Forum News Service bureau in Bismarck. He attended the University of Minnesota in the Twin Cities, where he studied journalism and political science, and he previously worked at the Grand Forks Herald and Bemidji Pioneer.  

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