Watch the debate: Cal Counts' race for the Senate

KPBS News (via YouTube)

Tuesday's debate has concluded, but you can watch the archived video above. Let us know your thoughts on Twitter using the hashtag #CACounts.


Mail-in ballots are going out this week for the June 7 primary, and many Californians still don’t know who they’re going to vote for in the U.S. Senate race to replace retiring Sen. Barbara Boxer.

A Field Poll last month showed 48 percent of likely voters in the race remain undecided.

Maybe that’s because the headline-stealing presidential primary has grabbed all of the attention. Whatever the reason, we’re here to help.

The state’s leading public media newsrooms will hold a debate Tuesday night called "California Counts — Race for the Senate." KPBS will host the debate from the station’s San Diego television studio in partnership with KPCC in Pasadena, KQED in San Francisco and Capital Public Radio in Sacramento.

In Los Angeles, it will air live at 7 p.m. on KPCC 89.3 FM. And it will be streamed live on KPCC.org:

The debate is part of California Counts, an election coverage initiative from KPBS, KPCC, KQED and Capital Public Radio. The partnership is a first for the stations. Reports from California Counts focus on major issues and solicit diverse voices on what’s important to the future of the state.

We'll also be live-tweeting the event tonight. Feel free to join in with your thoughts using the hashtag #CACounts:

Here are a few other things to know about tonight’s debate:

Who will be debating?

Two Democrats, California Attorney General Kamala Harris and Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez of Orange County, and three Republicans, Tom Del Beccaro, Duf Sundheim and Ron Unz. Del Beccaro and Sundheim are former heads of the state Republican Party. Unz is an entrepreneur, writer and publisher. If you want to read up on the candidates, you can find a profile on Harris here; read about Sanchez here; and find more info on the GOP candidates here.

Who’s asking the questions?

The moderator is KPBS investigative reporter Amita Sharma. The panelists are Scott Shafer, senior editor for KQED’s California Politics and Government Desk, Mary Plummer, senior politics reporter for KPCC; Linnea Edmeier, managing editor for Capital Public Radio; and Marco Serrano, reporter for Univision San Diego.

How will you know if a candidate’s not answering a question?

This is for those watching the debate on the web or on KCET. Each question will be on the screen. So if a candidate dodges the question or veers off topic, you’ll be able to see exactly what he or she was asked in the first place. Candidates, take note and just answer the questions. For radio listeners, expect the moderator or panelists to point out candidates who dodge the questions.

How does the audience get to participate?

We didn’t want a debate without a little audience participation. That’s why one of the questions was picked from an online poll — no, it wasn’t scientific — done by KPBS, KPCC, KQED and Capital Public Radio. First, we asked for questions that you wanted us to ask. Three topics emerged as the most popular: the Affordable Care Act, foreign policy and the environment. Then we let you vote online. The environment won, so the candidates can expect a climate change question.

Another question will come from the studio audience, which will largely be made up of students from San Diego State University. (If you didn’t know, KPBS is based on the SDSU campus.) We want to get these millennials engaged in the election, given that turnout among voters under 24 in the June 2014 primary was abysmal — 3.7 percent in California.

What’s this Facebook Live pre-debate show?

This is our way of getting the debate fun started early. Before the show, KPBS hosts a Facebook livestream — watch here.

KPBS anchor Maya Trabulsi will take Facebook viewers around the station and into the studio to catch some of the action before the candidates arrive on stage.

Along the way, she’ll talk to some of the SDSU students and give them a pop quiz on politics. (She needs to go easy on them. This is finals week on campus, after all.) If you want to learn more about how this works before the debate, click here.

Series: California Counts

California Counts is a collaboration of KPBS, KPCC, KQED and Capital Public Radio to report on the 2016 election. The coverage focuses on major issues and solicits diverse voices on what's important to the future of California.

Read more in this series and let us know your thoughts on Twitter using the hashtag #CACounts.

Copyright 2016 KPBS. To see more election coverage, visit www.kpbs.org.