Schuette, Whitmer agree to two televised governor's race debates in October

Beth LeBlanc
The Detroit News
Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette, left, and and former state Senate Democratic Leader Gretchen Whitmer will compete to be Michigan’s next governor after winning party primary fights Tuesday night.

Republican Bill Schuette and Democrat Gretchen Whitmer agreed Friday to two televised debates in the governor's race, according to the campaigns. 

The locations and live formats are the following the same pattern as the primary campaign, when the first debate for each party was held on WOOD-TV and the last one on WDIV in Detroit.

The Grand Rapids station will kick off the clash of the candidates on Oct. 12 in a one-hour 7 p.m. broadcast that will be livestreamed and picked up by other stations around the state. Moderator Rick Albin will decide what questions to ask and the format for the opening and closing statements.

The last debate is scheduled for Oct. 24 in Detroit, as WDIV anchors Devin Scillian and Kimberly Gill ask the questions in a one-hour forum that starts at 8 p.m.

The debates won't be the first time that Schuette and Whitmer have confronted each other on a debate stage. The state's term-limited attorney general and former state Senate minority leader participated in several forums during the primary campaign when most of the Democratic and Republican hopefuls also were included. 

But the debates will be their first face-to-face appearance. A Sept. 5-7 poll of 600 likely Michigan voters conducted for The Detroit News and WDIV found Whitmer led Schuette by about 14 percentage points. The survey had a margin of error of plus-minus 4 percentage points.

Schuette has been attacking Whitmer as favoring the policies of former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, who led the state during the stagnant economy of the 2000s that included the Great Recession. His campaign has argued that her spending policies would lead to a tax increase, especially since she has refused to pledge that she would not raise taxes.

Whitmer's campaign has been arguing that Schuette would take health care away from Michiganians because he supports the elimination of the Affordable Care Act, which included the expansion of Medicaid health insurance coverage. Schuette has said he would keep the program in place even though he supports passing better federal health care policies and has reiterated his past support for maintaining federal insurance protections for those with pre-existing conditions.