David McCormick, the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania,...

David McCormick, the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania, speaks at a campaign event at the Beerded Goat Brewing Co., April 25, 2024, in Harrisburg, Pa. Credit: AP/Marc Levy

HARRISBURG, Pa. — Democratic U.S. Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania on Thursday proposed a series of debates with his Republican challenger David McCormick leading up to the November general election, and McCormick readily accepted.

The race for a Senate seat in the battleground state is expected to cost hundreds of millions of dollars and to help decide control of the chamber next year.

Casey, in a statement, said he intends to participate in three debates in the fall, one apiece in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Harrisburg before the Nov. 5 election.

He made the proposal “in keeping with Pennsylvania’s proud history of political debates,” he said. Asked about it at a campaign event, McCormick said it's a good way for the candidates to make their case to the public.

Both Casey and McCormick were uncontested for their party's nominations in Tuesday's primary election, putting them on track for a six-month campaign against each other.

The likelihood of a debate in this year’s presidential race is iffy — and the time-honored tradition of televised debates as a forum for voters to evaluate candidates has declined in recent years.

A series of three debates in the Pennsylvania Senate race would be the most robust conversation between candidates since 2006, when Casey and then-GOP Sen. Rick Santorum had four debates.

Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., smiles while speaking during an event...

Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., smiles while speaking during an event at AFSCME Council 13 offices, March 14, 2024, in Harrisburg, Pa. For Democrats trying to defend the White House and Senate majority, Casey is emerging as the tip of the spear in trying to reframe the election-year narrative around inflation, a key soft spot in 2024 for Democrats on the all-important voter issue of the economy. Credit: AP/Marc Levy

In Pennsylvania’s last five U.S. Senate contests since then, debates have not been a major feature. All of those debates took place in mid to late October, with two debates apiece in the 2010, 2016 and 2018 campaigns, and one debate each in the 2012 and 2022 races.

In 2022's Senate race, Democratic nominee John Fetterman — who went on to win the election — agreed to participate in just one debate, as he worked to recover from a stroke that he said nearly killed him and adjust to the lingering effects.

In particular, he had struggled to speak fluidly at times and had a diminished auditory processing speed that made it difficult to respond quickly to what he was hearing.

Fetterman agreed to the debate after weeks of his Republican rival, Dr. Mehmet Oz, pressuring Fetterman and aggressively questioning the severity of his lingering health problems from the stroke.

FILE Republican David McCormick addresses supporters at the Heinz History...

FILE Republican David McCormick addresses supporters at the Heinz History Center in Pittsburgh , Sept. 21, 2023. Tuesday's Pennsylvania primaries will cement the lineup for a high-stakes U.S. Senate race between Democratic Sen. Bob Casey and Republican challenger David McCormick, a contest that is expected to cost hundreds of millions of dollars and could help decide control of the Senate next year. Credit: AP/Gene J. Puskar

Meanwhile, in Pennsylvania's 2022 gubernatorial race, Democrat Josh Shapiro and Republican Doug Mastriano did not debate at all.

Rather, Mastriano rejected a media-moderated debate and instead reserved a hotel ballroom two weeks before the election and picked a partisan moderator for himself: a one-time White House staffer who was the director of strategic communications for former President Donald Trump.

A tipster says he told the state about buried drums at Bethpage Community Park nearly a decade ago. Newsday's Ken Buffa reports. Credit: Newsday/Daddona / Pfost / Villa Loarca

Uncovering the truth about the chemical drums A tipster says he told the state about buried drums at Bethpage Community Park nearly a decade ago. Newsday's Ken Buffa reports.

A tipster says he told the state about buried drums at Bethpage Community Park nearly a decade ago. Newsday's Ken Buffa reports. Credit: Newsday/Daddona / Pfost / Villa Loarca

Uncovering the truth about the chemical drums A tipster says he told the state about buried drums at Bethpage Community Park nearly a decade ago. Newsday's Ken Buffa reports.

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