Canton mayor Pat Smathers wrote the three other candidates, asking them to participate in debates held through March at high schools statewide.
"This type of activity is what, in my opinion, has caused many people to become disenchanted with politics ... the people of our state deserve better," Smathers wrote to Hampton Dellinger, a Durham attorney; state Sen. Walter Dalton; and Winston-Salem city councilman Dan Besse.
Smathers suggested debates should be held if three of the four candidates agreed to participate. Besse immediately endorsed the plan, as did Dellinger. "Voters deserve to know the differences between candidates on critical issues that impact their lives," Dellinger said.
Dalton, of Rutherford County, took a wait-and-see approach late Friday, saying he would "review all debate opportunities as specific information become available."
The candidates would have dozens of opportunities to speak at events leading up to the primary, which may include debates, Dalton said.
Dalton and Dellinger have been the leading the fundraisers in the race to succeed current Lt. Gov. Bev Perdue, who is running for governor.