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Peter Cooke, the Democratic candidate for governor, challenged Gov. Gary Herbert to seven debates around the state over the next three months — an offer that the Herbert campaign wouldn't agree to, at least not yet.

So far, the candidates have agreed to one debate hosted by the Utah League of Cities and Towns in Salt Lake City on Sept. 14.

Cooke said other civic groups and media outlets have indicated they would like to be involved in the gubernatorial debates.

"[Debates] are an historical part of democracy and provide voters with the information they need to measure the candidates for the office of governor," Cooke said. "I hope the governor will accept my invitation."

Marty Carpenter, a spokesman for the Herbert campaign, said there will be debates, but it's hard to say how many there will be, given the governor's schedule. There will likely also be a series of joint appearances featuring the two candidates.

"The governor welcomes the opportunity to debate and make sure the electorate can make an informed decision," Carpenter said. "We're working to coordinate potential debates that will work with his schedule. Obviously his primary focus is serving as governor."

Herbert participated in several debates with his Democratic challenger, Peter Corroon, in 2010, and they were generally pointed exchanges with Corroon assailing Herbert over alleged ethical improprieties.

Herbert still won the race easily.

Robert Gehrke

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