Republican senator Scott Brown and his Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren are set to square off this evening (Wednesday) in Springfield for their third debate in the Massachusetts US Senate race. The Symphony Hall debate is the only one in the western part of the state. Organizers say they are ready to host what some are calling one of the most closely watched senate races in the country.
By 10:30 this morning, media crews and union stagehands were finalizing the set-up inside the hall, while outside a group of Scott Brown supporters, unfazed by the rain, had come early to set up campaign banners and posters across the street. Organizers say tickets for the free sold-out event were snapped up within minutes when they became available in September. Paige Brody, the executive director of the Springfield Public Forum, says the event has been months in the planning.
“We started having this discussion last winter about how exciting it would be if we could get a senate debate here and help host it. But we knew we needed to enlist some help and we started discussing with some of our partners in the community and found out that they were having similar discussions. And so it turned out that a consortium kind of grew very quickly and organically out of that.”
New England Public Radio is part of the consortium. Paul Hetzel, the forum’s president, says questions for this debate were solicited from the public, and will cover a variety of topics he hopes will give the audience better insight into the candidates.
“I hope they hear the issues they want to hear. But it’s important that it be civil and we try to avoid lots of yelling and screaming because that will shorten the amount of time that the audience will have to get their questions answered.”
The doors to Symphony Hall open at 5 and close at 6:30 sharp. Hetzel says only people with tickets will be allowed in, adding they should allow extra time to have their bags checked for security purposes.