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March 28, 2012 at 11:55 AM

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Inslee changes mind on business debate - will attend June 12 event in Spokane

Democrat Jay Inslee has reversed his decision to skip a June 12 gubernatorial debate sponsored by the Association of Washington Business.

After earlier rejecting the debate, claiming AWB had acted in bad faith and conspired with Attorney General Rob McKenna on the scheduling of the event, the Inslee campaign now says he intends to show up.

The Inslee camp denied the change of heart was due to negative optics surrounding his earlier refusal to attend, which had been widely mocked by Republicans.

"We had been hoping that we could find a different date, one that could be closer to the election," said Inslee spokesperson Jaime Smith. "But if they are committed to doing that date in June, fine, we'll try to make that work."

AWB previously has held its debates in September, but moved this one up to June in part because the state moved its primary to August. The debate, held since 1992, has traditionally drawn both major-party candidates.

"We are pleased that candidate Inslee will participate in our debate and look forward to having a vigorous discussion of the key issues facing Washington state before a live audience," said AWB President Don Brunell in a written statement.

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