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Shuster-DelGrosso debate sold out

Those who wish to see the heavyweights of the Ninth Congressional District battle it out in the April 19 debate at Penn State Altoona will have to catch it on television.
Yesterday, Linda Stotler, communications director for the Blair County Chamber of Commerce, reported the debate between incumbent Congressman Bill Shuster and Tipton resident Michael DelGrosso has been sold out. All 400 tickets for the event were gone in a matter of days.
The debate will bring together two candidates who have been bantering back and forth since DelGrosso announced he was throwing the hat into the ring to battle Shuster for the primary Republican nod when primary polls open April 227.
Most recently, DelGrosso publicly challenged Shuster to a 15-county debate marathon; however, Shuster declined the invitation, stating that not even presidential candidates participate in such debates.
“The Blair County Chamber of Commerce is happy that a debate was agreed upon by both parties,” said Joe Hurd, executive director of the Chamber, which is sponsoring the event.
According to Hurd, the event will take place on Monday, April 19 beginning at 8:30 a.m. Moderating the event will be Dr. William Cale, chief executive officer and dean of Penn State Altoona.
Hurd said both DelGrosso and Shuster will be briefed on the ground rules of the event before each candidate will give opening remarks for two minutes. Shuster will offer his opening remarks first, followed by DelGrosso.
Hurd said a coin will be tossed to determine which candidate will be asked the first question, afterwhich, a two-minute response will be allowed. The other candidate will then have a two-minute opportunity to respond, followed by another minute for the candidate who received the first question to rebut.
It will be televised in its entirety following the 11 p.m. news on WTAJ-TV.
Afterwards, all media outlets in the Ninth Congressional District can obtain a copy of the debate to air whenever that particular media outlet chooses.
Hurd said the Community Art Center holds about 400 people. He said each candidate received two tickets, 20 were reserved for media, 100 for PSU faculty, staff and students, and 240 other tickets were distributed to interested Chamber members.
Both DelGrosso’s camp and Shuster’s camp offered brief remarks regarding the debate.
“I look forward to the opportunity to engage in a conversation about the issues facing the residents of the Ninth District,” said Shuster. “I think that the debate is a great opportunity to highlight my real leadership and real results for the people of the Ninth District.
“I am very pleased that WTAJ-TV has agreed to provide media outlets across the Ninth District access to the debate, so residents from across the district will be able to see the exchange of ideas and the discussion of issues.”
Justin Meyer, DelGrosso’s campaign manager, said he was disappointed with Shuster’s process in agreeing to the debate, noting Shuster made a number of requests forcing delays in an official announcement.
“I do have concerns Shuster chose April 19 for the debate,” said Meyer. “This is the same day the House goes back in session. I’m sure he is going to like these two weeks to practice for this one debate.
“We signed this agreement weeks ago,” said Meyer, noting DelGrosso’s pledge to debate Shuster ‘anywhere, anytime.’ “We were the first to sign this one and we’ll be the first to sign the next one.”
Meyer said the DelGrosso camp was very appreciative of the professionalism of the organizations involved in organizing the debate.
“They put together a real professional platform and we’re excited to be a part of it,” said Meyer.