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Virginia Gubernatorial Contenders Square Off In First Debate On Saturday

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Are you ready to rumble? Verbally, that is.
Gage Skidmore: http://www.flickr.com/photos/gageskidmore/6238582161/
Are you ready to rumble? Verbally, that is.

Virginia's gubernatorial contenders have spent plenty of time sniping at each other on the campaign trail, but this weekend they'll get a first shot to snipe at each in person.

Republican contender Ken Cuccinelli and Democratic hopeful Terry McAuliffe will take part in a 90-minute debate on Saturday hosted by the Virginia Bar Association and the PBS Newshour. The debate will be the first of at least five face-to-face meetings; Cuccinelli originally challenged McAuliffe to 15 debates, but McAuliffe agreed to only one-third that amount.

The debate comes in the wake of two polls showing McAuliffe taking a narrow lead in statewide polls and collecting more campaign contributions throughout June.

One gubernatorial contender who won't be included is Robert Sarvis, who will appear on the November ballot as a libertarian. He recently polled at seven percent statewide; debate organizers said they would limit the debates to candidates receiving at least 15 percent statewide support.

The Roanoke Times has taken issue with Sarvis' exclusion, writing in an editorial today third-party candidates "offer fresh perspectives and challenge the status quo."

The debate, which will last 90 minutes, will be live-streamed here.

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