Democratic Congressman Collin Peterson and his Republican challenger, Torrey Westrom, will participate in two televised debates this month.

Pioneer Public Television in Appleton will sponsor the first debate, which will air at 8 pm. Thursday, Oct. 23.

The second debate, hosted by Prairie Public TV, will air in the Fargo-Moorhead area at 8 pm. Friday, Oct. 24.

Westrom has also agreed to a debate on KSTP-TV's “At Issue” on October 17. Peterson has yet to commit, but his spokeswoman said the campaign is “working on other [debate] possibilities.”

Peterson is seeking a 13th term in Congress and Westrom is aggressively pursuing an upset in the Republican-leaning Seventh District.

GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney won the district by almost a 10-point margin in 2012, but Peterson has coasted to re-election for much of his tenure in Congress.

Incumbents with large leads in the polls don’t often agree to debates with their lesser-known opponents, but recently released polls paint contrasting pictures of how competitive the race is.

A poll commissioned by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in early September shows Peterson with a 24 point lead over Westrom. Poll numbers released last week by the National Republican Congressional Committee last week found Westrom down just five points.

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