Bilbray wants to debate Peters, Saldana


City News Service

Rep. Brian Bilbray, R-Solana Beach, on Wednesday proposed a series of debates against his Democratic challengers, in various formats, leading up to the June 5 primary.

Bilbray called for four one-hour debates to be held between Jan. 1 and the election -- on television, radio, and in person.

He suggested one could be on KPBS Radio, another televised by a local news affiliate, one to be hosted by radio commentators Rick Amato or Mark Larson, and one in front of a public audience.

The Republican will run as an incumbent in a redesigned 52nd District, which runs from the coastline across Clairemont Mesa and Miramar to Poway. The changes stemmed from redistricting after the 2010 census.

Democrats who plan to challenge him include Scott Peters, a former San Diego city councilman and currently chairman of the board of the Port of San Diego, and former state legislator Lori Saldana.

In a statement released to the media, Peters said he was eager to debate Bilbray.

“This is a brand-new district whose voters may not know as much about the incumbent as they should,” Peters said.

Saldana said she would prefer a half-dozen debates in front of voters, not in broadcast studios, so she can hear directly from the voters.

“I fully expect that this kind of open and honest debate with candidates and voters will attract media attention, and I invite media representatives to join the community in their neighborhoods, and participate in locations throughout the 52nd District,” Saldana said.

Bilbray said his method would give people a chance to hear about the candidates’ views and experience, which are especially important given the condition of the economy.

“These are serious times that require serious people,” Bilbray said. “The voters of the 52nd District deserve the chance to hear from each of us about how we are going to tackle these problems.”