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August 27, 2010 at 9:00 AM

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Murray agrees to two debates

Posted by Jim Brunner

Updated with new comments from Murray. (See bottom of post.)

U.S. Sen. Patty Murray has agreed to two televised debates in October with Republican challenger Dino Rossi -- one in Spokane and one in Seattle.

In a letter to the Rossi campaign, Murray campaign manager Jeff Bjornstad said Murray looks forward to a "respectful discussion" of the issues.

Murray agreed to a live KOMO TV debate in Seattle that would be simulcast in Yakima, Spokane and the Tri-Cities. She also accepted a Spokane debate with public television station KSPS and the KXLY broadcast group.

The debates would be in early October, after the Senate has recessed.

Rossi had asked for six debates with Murray - five in-state and one on a nationally televised political talk show. Naturally, his campaign was not satisfied with Murray's offer.

"I have to admit we're a little disappointed that, even in this very difficult year, Senator Murray continues to rely on her usual political playbook of minimal debates at the very end of the campaign," wrote Pat Shortridge, Rossi's campaign manager, in a letter to Bjornstad.

Shortridge added: "I think she owes it to the people of Washington to come out from behind the consultants and negative ads, throw away the usual playbook of agreeing to 2 debates in late October, and instead, engage Dino and the voters."

Update: 12:55 p.m. I caught up with Murray this morning at Elliott Bay Book Co. (she was touring some friendly businesses to promote a small-business lending bill that has been blocked by Republicans.)

Murray said the two debates she's offered are enough, and took a swipe at Rossi's frequent runs for office.

"Like I told them, I am not a professional politician. I am a United States Senator," Murray said, citing her official schedule.

"We're going to be in session for four weeks in September, where I have a responsibility to be at work and getting the job done in a very critical time in the nation," she said.

Murray said she hopes Rossi accepts the two debates she's offered "so we can get at least those on the books" and "move past the debate on debates."

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Jim Brunner
Covers politics.

Keith Ervin
Covers the Eastside.

Andrew Garber
Covers politics and state government from Olympia.

Emily Heffter
Covers local government.

Mike Lindblom
Covers transportation.

Kyung Song
Covers politics and regional issues from Washington, D.C.

Lynn Thompson
Covers Seattle City Hall.

Bob Young
Covers King County and urban affairs.