DARTMOUTH, Mass. (WPRI) — U.S. Senate rivals Ed Markey and Joe Kennedy III have agreed to participate in a live televised debate on June 8 hosted by WPRI 12 and Gannett’s Massachusetts publications, the only face-off between the pair scheduled to be held in Southeastern Massachusetts. The debate will take place at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.
Markey, who was first elected to the Senate in 2013 after decades in the House, is facing a Democratic primary challenge from Kennedy, who has represented the 4th Congressional District since 2012. Polls have consistently shown a close contest between the pair.
The hourlong debate will be moderated by WPRI 12 reporter Tim White, joined by WPRI 12 politics editor Ted Nesi and Taunton Daily Gazette/Enterprise of Brockton regional city editor Rebecca Hyman. It will air live on WPRI 12 and Nexstar Broadcasting’s other stations in the region: WXXA-TV (FOX) in Albany, WWLP-TV (NBC) in Springfield, and The CW Springfield. Viewers will also be able to live stream the debate on the stations’ websites.
Both campaigns have indicated Southeastern Massachusetts could be a key battleground in the Sept. 1 Senate primary, and the June 8 debate will mark the symbolic start of the summer campaign for the two hopefuls.
“WPRI 12 is Southern New England’s local election headquarters, and hosting this debate is another example of our ongoing commitment to serving voters across the region,” Patrick Wholey, vice president and general manager of WPRI 12, FOX Providence, CW Providence and myRITV, said in a statement. “We are proud to partner with our sister markets, Gannett and UMass Dartmouth to bring the candidates here and answer the questions on the minds of Southeastern Massachusetts voters.”
“This marquee debate is another example of WPRI 12’s dedication to the kind of dependable, in-depth political coverage that is essential in informing the public in the lead-up to Election Day,” added WPRI 12 News Director Karen Rezendes.
“At UMass Dartmouth, we strive to provide our students with opportunities to become more engaged and thoughtful citizens,” UMass Dartmouth Chancellor Robert E. Johnson said in a statement. “By working with great regional partners like WPRI 12 and Gannett’s Massachusetts publications and news sites, we are giving not just our students, but the entire Southcoast an opportunity to have their voices heard.”
Markey and Kennedy have agreed to five televised debates. They met for the first time on Feb. 18 in Brighton at WGBH’s studio. Their next debates are scheduled to take place on March 18 in Springfield, May 11 in Worcester, June 8 on WPRI 12, and Aug. 18 in Greater Boston.
Ted Nesi (email@example.com) is WPRI 12’s politics and business editor and a Target 12 investigative reporter. He is a weekly panelist on Newsmakers and hosts Executive Suite. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook