Currently, the terms of gubernatorial debates and whether or not they happen are largely dictated by the front-runner. Conventional wisdom says debates are more likely to help the challenger or the candidate who is behind in the polls.
It's true there were plenty of debates before the June primary, including a televised debate in San Jose with the six top-polling candidates for governor. But that's not the same as a one-on-one matchup, where it's harder to skate under the radar.
"The most important thing about debates is that it gets people on the record making commitments before they’re elected," said Kim Alexander, president of the California Voter Foundation. "It isn’t so much that every registered voter will watch the debate, but rather you have a public record of what they say they'll do if they win."
While debates might not increase voter turnout, at least they would help publicize the fact that an election is happening and who's running, Alexander said. (full story)