Seeking elected office means defending your positions against your rivals’ — including within your own party.

But when U.S. Rep. Mazie Hirono refused any debates on network TV with her Democratic primary opponent Ed Case, she did a disservice to the people of Hawaii.

The race for the U.S. Senate is critical.

Not only will Hawaii send its first new senator to Washington in decades, but, judging by actuarial tables and the fact that in Hawaii incumbent Democrats rarely lose their seat, the person who wins this race will likely be in office for the next 30 years. The political balance of the Senate is also at stake, and could come down to the win or loss of a single seat.

Debates are fundamentally about getting information to voters, letting voters see how the candidates stack up. They also influence outcomes. Think of the huge audiences that tuned in to watch the candidates for the Republican presidential primary.

If Hirono does not want to play favorites among TV stations, fine by us, pick the one with the widest audience. Better yet pick them all. How else are voters supposed to make an informed decision about who it elects to the Senate?

One of the debates she turned down was a Civil Beat/KITV event. We can’t speak to what the other networks had offered, but we gave the candidates a choice of dates and a promise of 90 minutes during primetime on a weeknight.

That’s a serious commitment on our part to make sure the event reached the widest audience. Sadly, it seems that that is exactly what Hirono wants to avoid.