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Allen will participate in Republican debates

Republican U.S. Senate candidate George Allen says he will participate in three primary debates planned by the Republican Party of Virginia.

Last week, the RPV announced that it will hold three debates with candidates for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate next year. Those debates are scheduled for the second week of April in Roanoke, the first week of May in Northern Virginia, and the third week of May in Hampton Roads.

At least one candidate, Jamie Radtke, had questioned whether Allen — whose name recognition, fundraising and poll numbers exceed those of any other Republican primary candidate — would show up for the debates.

“For months George Allen has tried to avoid debating his record,” Radtke said in a press release last week. “He’s made it clear explaining his votes to increase the national debt $3 trillion is the last thing he wants to do before the primary. I have to wonder if he will try to force the organizers of the debate to limit tough questions about his record, or whether he’ll find a way to skip these debates as he has others.”

Allen today released a letter he sent to RPV chairman Pat Mullins, accepting the debate invitation.

“This upcoming 2012 election will be pivotal in determining the future of our country,” the letter said. “George Allen believes it is essential for Republicans to discuss solutions to the important issues affecting Virginia families and businesses.  We accept your invitation to continue that conversation in the three debates sponsored by the Republican Party of Virginia.”

In addition to Allen and Radtke, at least two other Republicans are seeking the nomination — Tim Donner, E.W. Jackson and David McCormick.

Allen also will participate in a debate with Democratic candidate Tim Kaine next month at an event sponsored by the Virginia Capitol Correspondents Association and the Virginia Associated Press Managing Editors. That debate limits participants to those who are polling at at least 15 percent in independent, published primary polls, and have raised at least 20 percent of the money raised by their party’s top candidate.  Radtke, Donner and the other Republican candidates — except Allen — have protested a general election debate held before the candidates are nominated.