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Sen. McSally believes challenger Mark Kelly is afraid to debate her

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PHOENIX — Republican U.S. Sen. Martha McSally believes her challenger for Arizona’s contested Senate seat is afraid to debate her as time continues to dwindle before November’s general election.

McSally in early August called on Democrat Mark Kelly to participate in seven debates prior to the election, citing a need for constituents across the state to hear the candidates’ platforms before the start of early voting Oct. 7.

Since, McSally has upped her pressure for Kelly to accept all invites, including for a debate that would be nationally televised by CNN.

“Why are you afraid to debate me?” McSally asked of Kelly Wednesday on KTAR News 92.3 FM’s The Mike Broomhead Show.

“He’s hiding in a bunker. Nobody knows what his positions are on things. I have a voting record. It’s very clear.”

A spokesman for Kelly’s campaign said the two sides have agreed to participate in two debates — one hosted by The Arizona Republic and one hosted by Univision.

“Mark looks forward to debating Sen. McSally, ensuring Arizonans know about her record of voting to gut protections for preexisting conditions and his plans to be an independent senator for Arizona,” Kelly’s campaign said in a statement to KTAR News.

Even so, McSally wants to see a nationally-televised CNN debate.

“It’s home field advantage for him and he still won’t do that one? That should say something to people,” McSally said.

Kelly has maintained a lead over McSally in polling over the past several months but it has been dwindling.

Kelly led OH Predictive Insights’ most recent poll in mid-August 48%-43% but he fell below 50% for the first time. He was up by as many as 13 percentage points in May.

In July, McSally was behind 52%-43%.

McSally also has chipped away at the deficit among independents. The most recent poll showed the gap at 47%-34%.

In July, she was behind Kelly among that group, 59%-32%.

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