MARSHALL - One debate down, three to go in the U.S. Senate race between incumbent DFLer Al Franken and his challenger Mike McFadden.
But McFadden wants even more.
The two clashed in a debate at Farmfest in early August and are scheduled to go at it again on Oct. 14 in Duluth and Nov. 2 at the Fitzgerald Theater for a Minnesota Public Radio debate. A WCCO-TV debate is also on the docket but has yet to be scheduled.
That's four debates in all (two rural, two metro) - the same number candidates participated in during the 2012 U.S. Senate election - but at the Minnesota State Fair on Thursday morning McFadden challenged Franken, who said he wouldn't take part in a debate at the fair, to six in all.
"He's been trying to avoid debates," McFadden told the Independent on Friday. "I am very discouraged that he is running away from a debate at the state fair. I believe Minnesotans have a right to hear us. That's why I challenged him to six debates."
Aside from the aforementioned scheduled debates, McFadden wants to go one-on-one in Rochester and Moorhead.
"And we had suggested doing an Almanac debate, which is broadcast statewide; these other debates would not be broadcast statewide," McFadden said. "How are the citizens of Marshall going to hear Senator Franken and myself talk about the issues?"
McFadden - who himself was criticized in a Rochester Post Bulletin editorial that said his challenger in the primary, Jim Abeler, had been "rebuffed in his attempts to debate McFadden before the Aug. 12 primary" - said Franken has been "invisible" since Farmfest on Aug. 6 and that this race is getting so much attention, not only here in Minnesota but nationally as well, because Minnesota is a battleground state and this could potentially be one of the six seats Republicans need to take control of the Senate.
"This is definitely a battleground race," he said. "Senator Franken has been a part of the problem in Washington, not part of the solution - people recognize that and as a result they are paying a lot of attention."
The Independent reached out to the Franken campaign for this story but was unable to gain an interview the senator.
In an email from Franken's office, campaign spokesperson Alexandra Fetissoff said: "Sen. Franken believes in debates and will participate in a total of four debates this election, as his first goal is to communicate with Minnesota voters."
To the "invisible" comment, Franken's team cited that he has made stops in Willmar for a workforce development tour, as well as stops in St. Paul and Mankato to speak with veterans and their families and in Worthington to see the benefits of PACE - the Property Assessed Clean Energy program. He was also part of a 21st Century Workforce Tour and went on the air with the Linder Farm Network at the Minnesota Farmers Union Booth at the state fair earler this week.
The Franken camp also noted a number of debates McFadden chose not to attend - pre-primary debates this year in Vadnais Heights, Goodhue County and Rochester, as well as 2013 debates in Carver and Kanabec counties.