Democrat Randy Perkins and Republican Rebecca Negron will skip the only televised debates before next week’s primaries in the nationally watched race for Palm Beach-Treasure Coast congressional District 18.
WPTV Channel 5 is taping separate Democratic and Republican debate segments Wednesday night in West Palm Beach. The debates, moderated by news anchor Michael Williams, will air Sunday at 10 a.m. on the NBC affiliate. The Democratic and Republican primaries are next Tuesday, Aug. 30.
WPTV says Democrats Jonathan Chane and John (Juan) Xuna have confirmed they’ll attend, as have five Republicans seeking the seat: Carl Domino, Mark Freeman, Rick Kozell, Brian Mast and Noelle Nikpour.
Both Perkins and Negron cited prior campaign commitments in declining WPTV’s invitation.
The District 18 race is expected to be one of the most hotly contested in the country this year.
Republicans hold a 38.1-to-34.6 percent registration edge over Democrats in the district. But Democratic Rep. Patrick Murphy of Jupiter was elected there in 2012 and 2014. With Murphy running for U.S. Senate this year, both parties have made the District 18 race a top priority this year.