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Noem Will Not Debate Varilek At SD State Fair

August 16, 2012, 6:07 PM by Ben Dunsmoor

Noem Will Not Debate Varilek At SD State Fair

Congresswoman Kristi Noem will debate her Democratic challenger Matt Varilek at least three times before Election Day, but on Thursday Varilek criticized Noem for declining a debate at the upcoming South Dakota State Fair.

Noem turned down an invitation for a debate hosted by the South Dakota Farmer's Union at the State Fair September 1 in Huron.

"I could barely believe my eyes when I read that Congresswoman Noem refuses to debate at the State Fair of all places," Varilek said in a statement Thursday.

After a Chamber of Commerce event in Sioux Falls, Noem addressed the issue.

"We're still considering debates and looking at them but we're going to make sure we do debates in front of fair and non-partisan groups and so that's what we're looking for is we want to have fair, open and honest debates,” Noem said.

The South Dakota Farmers Union says the group is a nonpartisan, non-profit organization that has been hosting debates between Republicans and Democrats since the 1950's, including one planned for this year at the State Fair with all the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission candidates.

A spokesperson with the South Dakota Farmers Union said Zach Nelson with KOKK Radio in Huron was going to moderate the debate.

Noem and Varilek have both agreed to three debates already including a primetime debate that will be broadcast live November 2 on KELO-TV.

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