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WBA cancels Democratic debate amid criticism

Wisconsin flag photo. (WLUK/Scott Hurley)

MADISON (WLUK) -- The Wisconsin Broadcasters Association is scrapping plans to hold primary election debates after the format of one of the debates was criticized.

The WBA had planned to invite only four of the 10 declared Democratic candidates for governor to a televised debate next month. Those invited would have been the four highest rated on the Marquette University Law School poll released closest to the debate.

That approach drew widespread criticism from the head of the poll, the state Democratic Party, U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan and several of the candidates. Even Republican Gov. Scott Walker says he thinks it's a mistake to limit the debate to four candidates.

Instead, the WBA announced Thursday that it would not host debates for either the Democratic primary for governor or the Republican primary for U.S. Senate. The organization instead said it would focus on debates in advance of the general election.


“There is a lot of interest in these primary elections, which is why we initially made an attempt to hold these debates,” WBA President and CEO Michelle Vetterkind said in a news release.

“By withdrawing the offer for primary debates, others can now pursue candidate forums in their respective primaries. Broadcasters remain committed to helping Wisconsin voters make informed decisions at the ballot box and the WBA Foundation is looking forward to playing an important role in that process this fall.”

No dates have been announced for general election debates.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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