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Trib Total Media to co-host political debates ahead of Pa. primary election

Trib Total Media, in partnership with Spotlight PA and its founding members, will co-host debates this month featuring candidates for Pennsylvania governor and the state’s open U.S. Senate seat ahead of the spring primary.

The gubernatorial debate features Republican candidates Joe Gale, Charlie Gerow, Melissa Hart and Nche Zama. It will be held at 7 p.m. April 19 at Gettysburg College.

Spotlight PA is organizing the debates with its media partners The Philadelphia Inquirer, Trib Total Media, PennLive/The Patriot-News and WITF, in conjunction with the Eisenhower Institute at Gettysburg College.

“Debates are an important forum to put candidates on the public record,” said Trib Total Media President and CEO Jennifer Bertetto. “If they win the election, journalists can hold them accountable to their comments and campaign promises.”

All candidates who met the primary petition filing deadline were invited. Four campaigns said they required a Republican moderator and other criteria rejected by the nonpartisan sponsors. A fifth did not respond.

Josh Shapiro is running unopposed in the Democratic gubernatorial primary.

The 90-minute format will feature a moderator and journalists from the host organizations. The candidates had no role in determining the panelists or topics.

The debate will be broadcast by PCN and live-streamed by the participating media outlets.

“Central to Spotlight PA’s mission is informing, equipping and empowering voters in Pennsylvania to make educated decisions at the polls,” said Spotlight PA Executive Director Christopher Baxter.

“That includes subjecting any candidate for higher office to tough, nonpartisan questioning about their record and their vision for our state and giving voters — regardless of political affiliation — the chance to hear from them directly.”

Spotlight PA will host U.S. Senate race debates the following week.
A Democratic debate is scheduled for 7 p.m. April 25 at Dickinson College with candidates John Fetterman, Malcolm Kenyatta, Alexandria Khalil and Conor Lamb expected to participate. A Republican debate is scheduled for 7 p.m. the next day featuring candidates Kathy Barnette, Jeff Bartos, George Bochetto, Sean Gale and Carla Sands. Other candidates may be added.

“Our goal is to inform and empower Pennsylvania voters as they head to the polls,” said Tracie Potts, executive director of the Eisenhower Institute at Gettysburg College. “It is imperative that voters have an opportunity to evaluate their options, to compare what candidates say to what’s important in their everyday lives.”