McCain and Kirkpatrick schedule first debate

Left: Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, D-Flagstaff, photographed in 2014. (Photo by Camaron Stevenson/Cronkite News) Right: Sen. John McCain speaks at the Cronkite School. (Photo by Alejandra Armstrong/Cronkite News)

Arizona’s two major U.S. Senate candidates, Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, D-Flagstaff, and Republican Sen. John McCain, will face one another in an October debate.

The debate is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Oct. 10, airing live on Arizona PBS, and the Cronkite News Facebook page. Arizona PBS and The Arizona Republic are sponsoring the event.

Candidates will discuss topics and answer questions on foreign, domestic and regional issues. The moderators are Arizona PBS’s Ted Simons, host of Arizona Horizon, and the Republic’s Yvonne Wingett Sanchez, a political reporter. Members of the public will have a chance to ask each candidate questions through social media.

“We are excited the two candidates turned to two of the state’s most-trusted media outlets to host this important debate,” said Christopher Callahan, Arizona PBS CEO and dean of Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. “We hope this debate will help inform voters across the state on a critically important election.”

McCain, R-Ariz., is running for his sixth Senate term. Kirkpatrick has spent two terms in Congress representing Arizona’s 1st Congressional District.

An Arizona Republic/Morrison/Cronkite News poll found that out of 784 respondents, 48.8 percent said they had a favorable or very favorable opinion of McCain. The margin of error was plus or minus 3.7 percentage points.

Meanwhile, the 36 percent of the respondents said they found Kirkpatrick favorable or very favorable. The margin of error was plus or minus 3.3 percentage points.

The poll also found that 30 percent of respondents said they “don’t know” or refused to answer how they feel about Kirkpatrick as opposed to 7.8 percent for McCain.

The Morrison Institute for Public Policy contracted with Behavior Research Center to conduct the poll from Aug. 17 to 31. Using up-to-date voter registration lists, almost 1,700 live landline and cellphone calls were used to obtain an average of 800 valid responses from likely voters per question. The interviews were performed in English or Spanish.

“At The Arizona Republic, our mission is to educate and empower,” said Nicole Carroll, editor of The Arizona Republic/ “We’re proud to help foster thoughtful discussion – at the debate and in our community. And we’re proud to partner with Arizona PBS.”