WHEELING - Only 3 percentage points separate Republican David McKinley from Democrat Michael Oliverio in the latest polls for West Virginia's open 1st Congressional District seat, and Northern Panhandle residents will have the opportunity to hear from both candidates during a debate Wednesday in Wheeling.
The event, sponsored by The Intelligencer and Wheeling News-Register along with West Virginia Northern Community College, will be held beginning at 7 p.m. in the auditorium of Northern's B&O Building in downtown Wheeling, located at 1704 Market St. It is open to the public.
McKinley, a Wheeling resident, and Oliverio, from Morgantown, are seeking the seat left open following Oliverio's defeat of current U.S. Rep. Alan Mollohan, D-W.Va., in the primary election.
J. Michael Myer, executive editor of The Intelligencer and Wheeling News-Register, will moderate the event.
"The 1st Congressional District race is one of the most important area voters have had to consider in many, many years," Myer said. "Given the current political climate in Washington, it is imperative that we send the right person there to represent us in Congress.
"We at The Intelligencer and the Wheeling News-Register believe that part of our duty to inform area residents is to give them an opportunity to judge the two candidates, face to face, through the debate. We appreciate the willingness of David McKinley and Mike Oliverio to participate, and we are grateful for the participation of West Virginia Northern Community College and the Wheeling Area Chamber of Commerce."
McKinley said he looks forward to debating in his hometown.
"I am proud that my hometown newspaper is hosting this debate. This is such an important election for the future of our state and nation," McKinley said. "On Wednesday evening, voters here and across the 1st District can decide who will fight the Obama-Pelosi agenda in Washington and who will not."
Oliverio said he also is eager to debate his opponent.
"I'm looking forward to having an opportunity to share with Northern West Virginia what we think is important - the issues we would work on if given the opportunity to serve," he said. "I look forward to visiting with the citizens, and I hope folks will come out and give thoughts on issues of the day and their priorities."
The newspapers and the Wheeling Area Chamber of Commerce will host a reception with light refreshments following the debate.