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The campaigns of 15th Senate District rivals Assemblyman Sam Blakeslee and former Assemblyman John Laird are hashing out plans to debate before their August rematch.

Blakeslee, former GOP Assembly leader, bested Laird, a Democrat, 49.49 percent to 41.43 percent in the June 22 special primary to fill the seat vacated by Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado. Because no candidate won more than 50 percent of the vote, both candidates will compete in an Aug. 17 runoff. Jim Fitzgerald, an Independent, and Mark Hinkle, a Libertarian, also advance to the August ballot.

The primary was flush with cash and television advertising, with millions spent by the two camps and independent expenditure campaigns. Laird's campaign released a letter Monday inviting Blakeslee to face off before the voters in all five counties in the district.

"The voters of the 15th District deserve more than 30 campaign ads and twice-a-day attack mailers on how either of us would deal with these problems," Laird wrote in the letter to Blakeslee.

Blakeslee consultant Jim Nygren said in a statement that the campaign is happy to debate because voters "deserve to hear from the candidates about proposals that will address the long-needed reform of fiscal policy in Sacramento."

"We welcome the opportunity to debate and to discuss how to fix California's broken state government and change the irresponsible practices that created this fiscal crisis," Nygren said in the statement, adding that voters "deserve to know the truth -- the real records -- of the candidates on the issue of environmental protection," an area targeted by opponents hitting on Blakeslee's past work for oil companies.



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