CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa --- Two Republicans running for their party’s nomination in Iowa 1st District will meet in a debate May 21 in Cedar Rapids.

Rod Blum, a Dubuque businessman, and Independence attorney Ben Lange will debate at 7 p.m. at Kirkwood Community College, Room 234 in Cedar Hall, 6301 Kirkwood Blvd. SW.

The debate will be sponsored by Five Seasons Republican Women.

The winner of the Blum-Lange June 5 primary election contest will face Rep. Bruce Braley, a Waterloo Democrat, in the Nov. 6 general election.

The candidates and their campaigns have been squabbling over debates, accusing each other of refusing to debate. The Lange campaign says Blum has declined offer to appear together, including a Benton County GOP event.

According to the county chairman, Lange spoke at an April event that was sponsored not by the GOP, but a conservative group, and Blum is scheduled to speak at a county party event May 10.

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“The bottom is this – I have never canceled, nor will I ever cancel a debate with my opponent,” Blum wrote in an email Wednesday.

He has proposed one debate in each of the 1st District’s 20 counties.

A spokesperson for Lange, who narrowly lost to Braley in 2010, said the candidate plans to do as many forums as his schedule permits.

They two have had joint forums in Black Hawk and Allamakee counties.

They have agreed to participate in a forum May 3 at the Hurstville Interpretive Center in Maquoketa. The $10-a-head fundraiser will start with a buffet dinner from 5:30-6:30 p.m. The candidates will make an opening statement and then take questions from the floor.

Another is planned May 12 in Grinnell.

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