By Maria Saporta
The run-offs are here, and the Atlanta Press Club is ready.
The debate committee met Wednesday to map out a series of nine run-off debates between now and Aug. 8, which is two days before the run-off vote. As a reminder, I chair the APC debate committee.
For those of you who are political junkies and/or believe in being an informed voter, here is our line up.
We will hold four debates this Sunday evening between 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., and they will be aired live statewide on Georgia Public Broadcasting, our television/radio partner for the better part of two decades.
The four debates this Sunday will be for the U.S. Congress. We will start with the Republican run-off for the 13th Congressional District (the seat now held by Rep. David Scott (D-Georgia).
Both candidates in that race — Mike Crane and Deborah Honeycutt — have confirmed their presence.
The next race is the Republican contest for the 12th Congressional District — the seat currently held by U.S. Rep. John Barrow (D-Georgia). candidate Carl Smith has confirmed his attendance, but his opponent Ray McKinney is saying he has a conflict. We’re still hoping he’ll find a way to come. If not, he will be represented by an empty podium.
At 7 p.m. Sunday evening, we’ll hold the debate for the Republican race in the 7th Congressional District. That race is to fill the seat being vacated by U.S. Rep. John Linder.
Both candidates in that run-off — Rob Woodall and Jody Hice — have confirmed they’re coming.
Then at 7:30 p.m., we’ll hold the debate for the Republican candidates in the 9th Congressional District, the seat that had been held by Congressman Nathan Deal, who resigned to run for governor. Tom Graves, who has been elected to serve in that post until November, is in a run-off with Lee Hawkins.
We’ll then take off a weekend and return with debates on Friday, Aug. 6. and Sunday, Aug. 8.
The one run-off that we are taping as web-only debate that Friday is the one for Republicans running for the Public Service Commission’s District 2. That’s a run-off between John Douglas and Tim Echols. We do hope that the blogosphere will help us make sure the public get an opportunity to see those two candidates who want a say on our state’s energy policies and rates.
Then at 7 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 6, we will hold two live debates broadcast statewide on GPB. The first race will be for the Democratic contest for Secretary of State between Gail Buckner and Georganna Sinkfield.
At 7:30, we will hold the Republican run-off for Insurance Commissioner between Ralph Hudgens and Maria Sheffield.
Sunday, Aug. 8 will be our big night of the run-off series.
We will start out with a debate between the two Republicans still in the race for governor — Karen Handel and Nathan Deal. Both of those candidates already have confirmed their presence.
We will end our run-off debates with the Republican Attorney General race. Sam Olens and Preston Smith are facing each other in that run-off.
So as you can tell, we’ve been busy. We hope you’ll take the time to watch. And in case you missed our 22 primary debates, you can view them online by going to the www.atlantapressclub.org website.