Congressional candidates to participate in debate organized by high school student

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SEVIERVILLE, Tenn. (WJHL) — Several candidates in Tennessee’s 1st Congressional District race will appear in a debate Thursday night that was organized by a high school student.

The debate will begin at 7 p.m. at the Ridge Outdoor Resort in Sevierville.

The event was organized by rising high school senior Doug Justice and other students.

According to a press release, candidates slated to appear include Republicans Jay Adkins, Richard Baker, John Clark, Steve Darden, Rep. David Hawk, Chuck Miller, Carter Quillen, and Nichole Williams.

Blair Walsingham, the only Democrat left in the race, says she was going to attend but decided to withdraw when organizers told her they were unable to accommodate her request to participate virtually. In a statement, Walsingham said, “live events are sending the signal to members of our communities that the sharp spikes in COVID cases in the region are insignificant.” She will instead host a Facebook Live event at 7:15 p.m. on her Facebook page.

The debate will be live streamed on Facebook.

It will be moderated by state Rep. Dale Carr and retired Chief Justice Gary R. Wade.

Organizers say social distancing standards will be followed and candidates have agreed to wear face masks, although they may take them off on stage.

Election Day is Aug. 6. Early voting continues through Aug. 1.

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