The question isn't if there will be debates featuring the 24th Congressional District candidates, but rather how many debates will the candidates agree to. 

U.S. Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle, R-Onondaga Hill, went on the offensive Thursday claiming her Democratic opponent, Dan Maffei, was refusing to agree to additional debates. 

Buerkle, Maffei and Green Party candidate Ursula Rozum have already agreed to participate in two debates. The first will be hosted by WCNY on Wednesday, Oct. 24. WSYR NewsChannel 9 will also host another debate on Friday, Nov. 2. 

But Buerkle said Maffei did not accept YNN's invitation for a debate co-hosted by the network and the Campbell Public Affairs Institute at Syracuse University's Maxwell School.

Buerkle and Rozum accepted YNN's invitation and the debate is scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 29. 

"Dan Maffei is apparently afraid to face the voters of this district in a series of forums because he's afraid that voters will scrutinize his failed record in Congress," Buerkle said in a statement. 

Maffei's campaign says that's not the case. In fact, a spokesman for Maffei said he has neither accepted or declined YNN's invitation. 

"We are looking forward to the debates we have agreed to which will air on every broadcast station in the Syracuse media market and on WXXI in the Rochester market," Maffei spokesman Marc Brumer said in an email. 

The candidates have also received invitations to participate in a forum at Cayuga Community College. The forum will be filmed at the college and televised on Time Warner Cable channel 12. 

As of this writing, that forum has not been finalized. 

SEIU Local 200United endorses Leib, Maffei

A local labor union endorsed candidates for Congress and state Legislature this week.

In the 24th Congressional District race, SEIU Local 200United endorsed Democratic candidate Dan Maffei. 

Maffei is challenging U.S. Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle, R-Onondaga Hill, in the 24th district. 

Ithaca attorney Howard Leib was also endorsed by SEIU. Leib is challenging state Sen. Jim Seward, R-Milford, in the 51st Senate District. (The district includes six towns in Cayuga County.)

Other area candidates receiving endorsements from SEIU Local 200United: Assemblyman Gary Finch, state Sen. John DeFrancisco and state Sen. Michael Nozzolio. 

Video interviews online

Visit auburnpub.com/eyeonny to watch interviews with U.S. Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle, R-Onondaga Hill, Democratic candidate Dan Maffei, and Green Party challenger Ursula Rozum. 

Online producer Robert Harding can be reached at 282-2220 or robert.harding@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter @robertharding

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