Well-established as a community leader for hosting important civic conversations, Belmont University will once again step to the forefront in 2018 as the site for a Tennessee gubernatorial forum and several debates. The campus previously hosted the 2015 and 2011 Nashville mayoral debates, the 2010 gubernatorial debates and, most memorably, the 2008 Town Hall Presidential Debate between then Senators Barack Obama and John McCain. Belmont also served as the alternate site for last year’s presidential debate series from the Commission on Presidential Debates. All of the 2018 gubernatorial events at Belmont will be co-sponsored with The Tennessean.
The series at Belmont will begin in January with a candidate forum focused on education in partnership with the State Collaborative on Reforming Education (SCORE). Primary debates will be held on Belmont’s campus next June as the Republican and Democratic party candidates gather separately to discuss topics relevant to the state. Once final candidates have been selected in next August’s primaries, Belmont will host one of three general election debates in the fall. While Belmont will host the Nashville/middle Tennessee debate, University of Tennessee-Knoxville will host an east Tennessee debate while University of Memphis will host one for the western portion of the state.
Belmont University President Dr. Bob Fisher said, “As an institution of higher education, promoting civic involvement and community responsibility are central tenets of Belmont’s mission to ‘empower students to engage and transform the world.’ This University has shown that commitment through the hosting of numerous political debates and forums on a local, state and national level, including a 2008 Presidential debate, and we are honored to once again be a gathering space for critical conversations that impact the future of every Tennessean. I am excited to welcome the gubernatorial candidates to our campus, and I look forward to joining with our colleagues at University of Tennessee–Knoxville and the University of Memphis to host insightful discussions on the issues affecting our state.”
In announcing the debates, Tennessean Editor/VP of News for the USA Today Network-Tennessee Michael Anastasi wrote, “The coming 12 months will be among the most important in this state’s long and storied political history… Through all of these [events], we will be encouraging rigorous discussion and debate while insisting on civil discourse, which we believe to be the truest test of leadership.”
The election to select Tennessee’s next governor will occur on November 6, 2018.