This is the email I sent to Jay Reiff (Moore campaign) and Zach Ambrose (Perdue campaign).
Dear Jay and Zach.
As I hope you read online, there is much enthusiasm for a virtual debate between Mr. Moore and Ms. Perdue at BlueNC. I have received more than two dozen emails and scores of online comments suggesting a wide range of options for how such a conversation might take place. After digesting all the input, we've decided to keep things simple, as I've outlined in the post below.
One of the great things about the format we're proposing is that gives both candidates the opportunity to manage the level of interaction as they see fit. They are free to answer some, none or all of the questions, as they see fit, and may also engage with their opponent if they wish. Plus, the schedule should allow you to participate without interfering with the many events and activities your campaigns have to manage. We're asking for two hours one evening, starting as early as 7 pm or as late as 9 pm.
Here are the other important details:
One hour before the event is scheduled to kick off, we will post two new threads at the top of the front page (in the green boxes). Whoever was on the right side of the page for the preview threads will be flipped to the left and vice versa. The text will be identical. I will welcome both candidates, link to their websites again, and also link to the preview threads.
In all likelihood, readers will begin to ask questions right away. If that doesn't happen, I will select a question from one of the preview threads and post the same question for both candidates. That should get the ball rolling. Candidates and their staffers are free to answer all, any, or none of the questions as they see fit. There will undoubtedly be more questions than they have time to deal with, and they will be free to circle back at their leisure to answer whatever questions they desire, or not.
Candidates will be free to engage with each other as well. For example, if Mr. Moore sees something on the Perdue thread that warrants a comment or question, he is more than welcome to post there. And vice versa, of course.
Also, staffers may post and comment too. We had originally thought that we'd get the campaign managers on for separate sessions, and we may still try to do that. But for now, we're planning to let the candidates speak for themselves if at all possible.
When two hours have passed, we'll post a "thank you" comment on both threads. That comment will signify the official end of the virtual debate, but will not close the threads. Readers, candidates, staffers, etc., will be free to keep up the discussion for as long as they want. The two live-session threads will remain featured in the green blocks at the top of the front page for 48 hours after the sessions are officially ended.
At this point, I have two simple requests.
* First, I'd like to know if you're still interested.
* If so, I would like a list of dates you have available to participate between February 11 and April 30.
I ask that you be back in touch with me no later than noon on Saturday, February 2nd.
As soon as I receive both lists, I will identify options that work for both of you and send you an email inviting you to participate on the earliest possible date that works for both of you and for the front-pagers at BlueNC.
Please call me if you have questions.
PS I am sharing my outgoing emails with the BlueNC community, but I will not share your responses unless you give me explicit permission to do so.
BlueNC is dedicated to making North Carolina a more progressive and prosperous state. If your intention is to disrupt this effort, please find somewhere else to express your opinions.