Coeur Group to host debate

Governor candidates will share views Oct. 3

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COEUR d'ALENE - The Coeur Group has slated its gubernatorial debate for noon on Oct. 3 in the Coeur d'Alene Public Library's Community Room.

According to co-founder Jimmy McAndrew, the young professional group has confirmed at least four of the six candidates will debate.

"Today is the deadline for the candidates to confirm," he said, adding that independent candidate Jill Humble declined to participate.

McAndrew was still waiting to hear from constitution party challenger Steve Panky.

So far, McAndrew said those who have confirmed their attendance are Republican incumbent Gov. Butch Otter, Democrat challenger A.J. Balukoff, libertarian challenger John Bujak and an independent candidate who changed his name to Pro Life.

"I think this is going to be an interesting election," McAndrew said.

It will be a debate-style event, with the candidates all standing on stage and fielding question from members of the Coeur Group panel.

"Each candidate will have an opportunity to answer the questions," McAndrew said. "We will rotate who goes first to keep things as objective as possible and as personal as possible."

The panelists will be McAndrew, Brent Lyles and Peter Smith, with Smith moderating the debate and managing follow-up questions when they arise.

"Peter is an attorney and he always does a great job in that position," McAndrew said.

Candidates will not get a preview of the questions they will be asked and McAndrew said only a handful of people know what the questions will be.

The research committee which helped develop the questions consisted of TJ Barnhart, James Noel, JR Norvell, Ben Miller and Kory Wilson.

McAndrew said a lot of thought went into the development of questions to ensure they don't elicit canned responses.

"We are working real hard to develop real questions," he said. "I think there will be some questions that might trip a few of them up."

The debate will be covered live on Coeur d'Alene TV channel 19, and it will be re-run several times before the election.

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