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23rd candidates side-step debates

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The special election for John McHugh's seat is a week from Tuesday. The three-way race between Republican Dede Scozzafava, Democrat Bill Owens, and Conservative Doug Hoffman is tight and nasty. The campaigns are fighting it out in expensive ad campaigns and dueling press releases. But the opportunities for actual debate between the candidates are dwindling. David Sommerstein reports.

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David Sommerstein
Reporter/ Producer

Republican Dede Scozzafava and Conservative Doug Hoffman were scheduled to debate Monday at News 10 Now in Syracuse.  But Hoffman pulled out late the night before, causing the TV station to cancel the event.  Explaining why, Hoffman spokesman Rob Ryan attacked Republican Scozzafava, who was also scheduled to participate. 

Dede Scozzafava is the spoiler in this race.  The real debate is between Bill Owens and Douglas Hoffman.

Democrat Bill Owens had declined to attend the News 10 Now debate, even though he was in nearby Oswego with Senator Chuck Schumer an hour and a half after the scheduled time.

Owens and Scozzafava are confirmed to debate Wednesday in Plattsburgh.  That debate will be co-moderated by North Country Public Radio's Brian Mann and will be broadcast on NCPR at 7pm. 

Spokesman Rob Ryan said Hoffman would not attend that debate either, citing a scheduling conflict.  When pressed repeatedly to say where Hoffman would be, Ryan refused to give specifics.

Everything is changing on the schedule, basically on an hourly basis.

Dede Scozzafava held a telepress conference yesterday to criticize the lack of debates in the campaign.

There hasn't been an opportunity for all three of us at one time, where people can hear from all of us.

All three candidates are scheduled to appear once together.  That's at the WSYR TV studios in Syracuse on Thursday.  Syracuse is outside the 23rd district.  The debate will be closed to the public and the press.

For North Country Public Radio, I'm David Sommerstein.

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