Utah Debate Commission releases debate schedule; 3rd party candidate makes the cut in 1st District race

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Debate Commission has released their schedule for debates and the data from the poll they used to determine which candidates made the cut.

The data and event schedule were released Wednesday morning.

The debates will be limited to two candidates for three of Utah’s four Congressional districts. Eric Eliason of the United Utah Party placed high enough in the poll to take the debate stage alongside Republican incumbent Rob Bishop and Democrat challenger Lee Castillo in the First District.

Eliason stated in part: “In this two-party system, I am not supposed to be on that stage. Why do we have enough support to qualify for the debate even with no party base and polling taking place almost three full months before the election? I believe it is because voters want to put country ahead of party and favor common-sense policies over a candidate funded almost entirely by out of state interests.”

The cut-off for participation in the debates is 10% support in the poll, which was conducted for the UTDC by Lighthouse Research. Because the margin of error is 4.0%, candidates with at least 6% support qualify for the debates.

“As Co-chairs of the Utah Debate Commission, we encourage all Utahns to watch the upcoming debates,” stated UTDC Co-chairs Scott Howell and Thomas Wright. “The poll numbers listed below should not be misinterpreted as predictions of the outcome of any race. This poll demonstrates there are still many undecided voters. By watching and participating in these debates you are taking part in one of the most unique and time-honored traditions in American politics. It is our hope that these debates will foster conversations in your homes and communities and help you decide which candidates will be invested with the great responsibility and privilege of leading Utah and this country forward.”

In the race for the US Senate seat to be vacated by Orrin Hatch, Republican Mitt Romney has 58.6% with Jenny Wilson at 18.6%. The two candidates will debate Tuesday, October 9, at 6 p.m. in the America First Events Center at Southern Utah University, 351 West Center Street, in Cedar City.

In the 1st District, Bishop secured 51% to Castillo’s 15.8% and Eliason’s 6.6%. The three candidates will debate at the Caine Performance Hall at Utah State University in Logan Wednesday, October 17 at 6 p.m.

In the 2nd District, Republican incumbent Chris Stewart was at 49% while Democrat challenger Shireen Ghorbani secured 26.8%. The pair will debate Monday, September 17 at 6 p.m. at the Eccles  Fine Arts Center at Dixie State University, 100 South 700 East, in St. George.

In the 3rd District, Republican John Curtis won 51.8% of the vote while Democrat James Singer is polling at 20%. Their debate will be Tuesday, October 23 at 6 p.m. at the Sorensen Student Center Grande Ballroom at Utah Valley University, 800 West University Parkway, in Orem.

The closest race is in the 4th District, where the UTDC poll shows Republican incumbent Mia Love leading Democrat Ben McAdams 47.5 to 38.3%. That debate is set for Monday, October 15 at 6 p..m. at the Karen Gail Miller Conference Center at Salt Lake Community College, 9750 South 300 West, in Sandy.