An overview of the 2016 debate season

Before closing the books on the 2016 elections, the Indiana Debate Commission is proud to provide a summary of its work to provide open-access, voter-focused debates in statewide campaigns.

This year the commission organized a Republican Senate primary debate, three gubernatorial debates, and one general election U.S. Senate debate. Access to all debates was provided cost-free to media outlets around Indiana. The Debate Commission, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, is one of the nation’s only non-partisan standing debate groups made up of citizens groups and media. The IDC covers production, broadcast and other expenses through donated cash and services (listed below).

The debates were carried on dozens of radio and TV stations statewide (in addition to national carriage on CSPAN), and at least 10 news organizations used the free live web streams provided by the commission. The public participated in the debates by submitting 300 suggested questions through the IDC website. There were also live audiences at the three gubernatorial debates, and 13 members of the public asked their questions in person. In addition, numerous Hoosiers engaged with the Debate Commission through its social media presence on Facebook and Twitter. At least 72 reporters across a wide variety of media outlets attended the primary and general election debates throughout this season and hundreds of news stories were generated.

“We are pleased to be able to continue organizing these debates,” said IDC President Dan Byron. “Year in and year out, we have heard from the public, the candidates and the news media that the debates provide a valuable public service.”

Byron extended thanks to the large number of individuals and organizations without whom the debates would not be possible. Venues and in most cases broadcast production services were provided as in-kind donations to the commission.

The commission, supported by a variety of media and other associations, organized in 2007 with the goal of providing the widest possible audience for candidate forums and debates. Including this year’s events, it has sponsored 18 statewide debates. 




Republican Senate Primary Debate, April 18, 2016

Venue: WYFI Studios, Indianapolis

Moderator: Elizabeth Bennion

Broadcast Production by WFYI-TV

Value of donated services:

  • Broadcast production: $7,670


First Gubernatorial Debate, Sept. 27, 2016

Venue: Lawrence North High School

Moderator: Laura Merrifield Albright

Broadcast Production by WFYI-TV

Value of donated services:

  • Broadcast production: $7,670


Second Gubernatorial Debate, Oct. 3, 2016

Venue: The University of Indianapolis

Moderator: John Ketzenberger

Broadcast Production by University Media Services (Ball State University)

Media outlets broadcasting or streaming debate: at least 20

Value of donated services:

  • Auditorium rental fee: $1,750
  • Food for media, moderator and candidates: $800
  • Florals for stage: $845
  • Parking Shuttle: $600
  • Broadcast production assistance: $5,000
  • Total UIndy Contribution: $8,995


U.S. Senate Debate, Oct. 18, 2016

Venue: WYFI Studios, Indianapolis

Moderator: Ken Owen

Broadcast Production by WFYI-TV

Media outlets broadcasting or streaming debate: at least 20

Value of donated services:

  • Broadcast production: $7,670


Third Gubernatorial Debate, Oct. 25, 2016

Venue: University of Southern Indiana

Moderator: Mizell Stewart III

Broadcast Production by WFIE-TV

Media outlets broadcasting or streaming debate: at least 15

Value of donated services:

  • Broadcast production: $10,000
  • Auditorium rental fee (value not provided)
  • Food for media, moderator and candidates (value not provided)


All Debates—General Support

The Associated Press – Photographers Michael Conroy and Darron Cummings

The Journal Gazette Foundation

The Hoosier State Press Association Foundation

The Scripps Howard Foundation

The League of Women Voters of Indiana Education Fund

AARP Indiana

The Indiana Broadcasters Association

Bob Jackson

Kyle Communications


Public Engagement

Number of questions submitted for debates: 300

Facebook (September-October): Total post reach 4,286; Daily engaged users, 465

Twitter (September-October): Impressions, 28,129; Engagements 742

YouTube 2016 debate videos: 5,426 views


IDC Board of Directors

Dan Byron

Alan Cloe

Chris Davis

Shannon Cagle Dawson

Tim Ethridge

Tim Harmon

Tom Jekel

Terri Jett

Max Jones

Gerry Lanosga

Ambre Marr

Beverley Pitts

Michael N. Red

Keith Robinson

Cathleen Shrader

Carrie Sosbe

Tim Swarens

Mike Wilson

W.S. “Bill” Wilson


About the Indiana Debate Commission

The Indiana Debate Commission is a non-partisan, statewide group representing citizen and media affiliates dedicated to promoting debates at the state level. The volunteer commission, which incorporated in 2007 and is organized as a 501(c)(3), works with candidates, sponsors, venues and citizen groups to promote open, unbiased and transparent debates for Hoosier voters. For more information, visit or join the commission on social media.

Facebook –

Twitter – @INDebateComm

YouTube –