With two weeks to go before Election Day, the three 23rd Congressional District candidates have agreed to their first debate — but the conversation will be in front of a television camera, not an audience.
Douglas L. Hoffman, William L. Owens and Dierdre K. Scozzafava will debate for one hour Oct. 29 in the WSYR NewsChannel 9 studios in Syracuse. The station, as well as its fellow Newport Television station, WWTI ABC 50, Watertown, will broadcast the debate at 7 p.m. Nov. 1.
Dan Cummings, co-anchor of WSYR's Morning News, will moderate.
Mr. Owens, the Democratic and Working Families parties candidate, has not yet agreed to attend any other debates or forums.
"Debates are obviously an important part of the democratic process and we're looking forward to the forum on the 29th," said Jonathan P. Boughtin, Mr. Owens' spokesman. "We will continue working to schedule additional debates including all three candidates between now and Election Day."
Ms. Scozzafava, the Republican and Independence parties candidate, and Mr. Hoffman, the Conservative Party candidate, have agreed to two additional events together:
■ A 1 p.m. debate Monday at News10Now, Syracuse, that will air at 7 that night.
■ A 7 p.m. Thursday "meet the candidates" night at the Ranger School for the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, Ranger School Road, Wanakena. The event is sponsored by the Clifton-Fine Development Corp.
Ms. Scozzafava also has agreed to take part in four other forums:
■ A 3:30 p.m. debate Thursday at WWNY-TV 7, which is being organized by the station, the Watertown Daily Times and North Country Public Radio.
■ A 7 p.m. Oct. 27 forum at Clarkson University, Potsdam, which is open to the public.
■ A 12:15 p.m. Oct. 28 forum with the Plattsburgh Rotary Club, which is open to members and invited guests. That will be held at the Elks Club, Cumberland Avenue.
■ A 4:30 p.m. Oct. 28 forum at Giltz Auditorium, Hawkins Hall, SUNY Plattsburgh, which is also open to the public.
Robert Ryan, Mr. Hoffman's spokesman, said his candidate will not attend Thursday's TV debate or the Clarkson forum. The Hoffman campaign has not determined if they will attend the Plattsburgh events, he said.
Matthew A. Burns, Ms. Scozzafava's spokesman, said the district's residents "deserve to have all of the candidates look them in the eye and explain what they stand for and why they are seeking the privilege of representing them in Washington. If Bill Owens and Doug Hoffman are unwilling to face the voters as candidates, how could they ever be trusted to do so as a congressman?"
Mr. Hoffman said Saturday that he has faced the voters — at an Oct. 4 forum in Plattsburgh with Ms. Scozzafava.
"My philosophy is I'd love to debate these guys. I'd love to find out where Mr. Owens created 2,000 jobs," Mr. Hoffman said. "And I'd like to find out what he's really about. Because, at this point, I don't think the voters have found out what Mr. Owens can do except have no comment and hide out."