Franken declines MPR State Fair debate invitation

Sen. Al Franken talks with reporters in St. Paul. Mark Zdechlik/MPR News file

DFL U.S. Sen. Al Franken’s campaign has declined an MPR News invitation to debate his Republican and Independence Party opponents at the Minnesota State Fair.

State Fair debates have been a tradition for MPR for 20 years.

In 1994 the DFL candidates for governor, John Marty, Mike Hatch and Tony Bouza debated. Democrat Amy Klobuchar and Republican Mark Kennedy debated on the MPR stage in 2006 when they were competing for an open Senate seat. Klobuchar also debated Republican Kurt Bills at the MPR fair booth in 2012.

The decision in recent years by the Legislature to move the primary election to August has ensured that the candidates debating at the fair are the parties’ nominees.

A Franken spokeswoman didn’t give a reason for the decision to decline the invitation. She said the campaign is just now considering invitations and didn’t rule out the traditional final debate hosted by MPR News at the Fitzgerald Theater Nov. 2.