If things go as planned, all five candidates in the race for governor will face off in the Charleston area.
The Post and Courier and its media partners will sponsor two televised debates in October - one in Charleston and the other in the Upstate.
Gov. Nikki Haley on Thursday confirmed she would take part in both, as did independent Tom Ervin and United Citizens Party candidate Morgan Bruce Reeves.
Democrat Vincent Sheheen's campaign committed to the first debate, set for Oct. 14 in Charleston, but said a previously discussed candidates' appearance in Myrtle Beach might stand in the way of him joining the second forum on Oct. 21.
Libertarian Steve French also has been invited.
The debates are being put together as part of a cooperative between The Post and Courier, WCIV-TV in Charleston, WACH-TV in Columbia, WPDE-TV in Myrtle Beach and WLOS-TV/WMYA-TV in the Greenville market.
The first debate will be held at 7 p.m. Oct. 14 in the Charleston media market with the topics focusing primarily on jobs, the economy and growth.
It will be broadcast live on the participating stations and additionally be aired online via Internet streaming.
The second debate will be held at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 21, in the Greenville/Spartanburg media market.
That debate will focus primarily on education and health care. It also will be broadcast live and streamed online.
Each debate will take place in front of a live audience. Venues and ticketing information will be announced at a later time.
Questions and topics will be offered by a panel of journalists from the newspaper and its broadcast partners.
Several of the campaigns issued statements of support Thursday, saying they welcomed the chance to be on stage together.
"We fully anticipate that each candidate will follow Tom's lead and accept this invitation because rejecting this opportunity would deny voters this fundamental component of the democratic process and send the message that they have something to hide," said Matt David, senior adviser in the Ervin campaign.
Haley's camp also issued a statement of support.
"Gov. Haley looks forward to debating her opponents, and comparing her vision of a growing and prosperous South Carolina with low taxes and more jobs, with her opponents' vision of a South Carolina with higher taxes, government health care, and an economic environment that would harm our businesses and workers," said Rob Godfrey, Haley's deputy campaign manager.
Andrew Whalen, campaign manager for Sheheen, said the Oct. 21 debate time could present a scheduling issue.
"The date proposed by The Post and Courier for Greenville conflicts with a previously proposed debate by the Myrtle Beach Chamber of Commerce and several of their television affiliates," he said. "We look forward to debates in every corner of the state and will work with all parties to ensure all South Carolinians have a chance to hear their candidates for governor debate."
Reach Schuyler Kropf at 937-5551.
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