Virus prompts governor debate format change

By The Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS — The debate set for Tuesday night among the three candidates for Indiana governor has been changed to a virtual format in what organizers said was a coronavirus safety move.

The nonprofit Indiana Debate Commission said Monday that the candidates will all be present at the WFYI-TV studio in Indianapolis but they and the moderator will be in separate spaces as they appear by video for the hour-long debate that begins at 7 p.m. EDT Tuesday.

The group said it has discussed the new format with campaign leaders for Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb, Democratic challenger Woody Myers and Libertarian Donald Rainwater.

Coronavirus precautions had already meant there wouldn’t be a studio audience for the debate.

The format change follows Myers last week asking for the debate commission to require COVID-19 testing for the candidates ahead of the debate. Organizers said any testing was up to the candidates and wouldn’t be required.

The debate comes as Holcomb has large fundraising and organization advantages over his challengers.

Myers has been pushing for more aggressive actions to control COVID-19 spread, while some conservatives angry over Holcomb’s coronavirus orders have said they’ll vote for Rainwater, who is an opponent of the statewide mask mandate.

A second gubernatorial debate is set for Oct. 27.

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