Photos by David Ng

The Pat Brown Institute’s Candidate Debate Program aims to provide a civic education to the general public about the candidates for elected office. Recognizing that debates are a key way in which the public learns about candidates running for public office and pertinent political issues, we have partnered with media organizations, schools, and non-profits to host debates for local, state, and national offices, as well as a candidate debate training program for students.

In 2013, we launched our non-partisan candidate debate program. These televised debates introduce the public to the candidates’ policy priorities and preferred governing styles while familiarizing the candidates with the concerns of the community. This initiative, developed in partnership with the League of Women Voters of Los Angeles and KABC7, started with the 2013 mayoral race for the City of Los Angeles. Since then, we have conducted debates for various local, state, and national offices. The 2016 U.S. Senate run-off debate was our most ambitious debate to date. Partnering with ABC7 and the League of Women Voters of California Education Fund, we broadcasted the debate across the state on ABC7 and its affiliates, and then nationally on C-Span, and live-streamed on Youtube to over 175k people. 

Since the 2013 mayoral debate, we have held all our debates on the campus of Cal State L.A. and sought to engage the student body in the debate process. In part, we do this by featuring students to ask questions during the debate. The Institute also partners with the campus’s Associated Students Inc., to host an on-campus watch party for students during the debates.

In 2016, we launched a Student Candidate Debate Training Program, which supports student-led debates with candidates running for office. High school and college students are taught how to serve as moderators and panelists, research important policy issues, and craft candidate debate questions.


Candidate Debate Programs

PBI Signature Candidate Debates - The Institute hosts televised candidate debates that are conducted in a non-partisan, objective, and fair manner. These debates are intended to introduce the community-at-large to the candidates’ policy priorities and preferred governing styles.

Student Candidate Debate
Training Program
- The Pat Brown Institute seeks to advance the all-important mission of engaging youth in politics and developing future leaders by supporting student-led debates with candidates running for office. High school and college students are taught to serve as moderators and panelists.