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Senate candidates in Virginia Tim Kaine and George Allen are set to participate in their first debate.

The Dec. 7 debate will coincide with Associated Press Day in Richmond, an annual event hosted by Virginia AP managing editors and the Virginia Capitol Correspondents Association.

Bob Gibson, executive director of the Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership, will moderate the debate. Other official candidates who want to participate essentially must have by October at least 15 percent of the vote in polls and at least one-fifth as much campaign money as the front-runners.

Mr. Kaine, a Democrat, and Mr. Allen, a Republican, have been in a virtual dead heat in recent polls. Given the candidates’ hefty fundraising bona fides — both pulled in more than $2 million during the second quarter — it could be tough sledding for other candidates to qualify. The next campaign finance filing deadline is Oct. 15.

A survey of 400 GOP primary voters last month by Public Policy Polling showed Mr. Allen at 68 percent, tea party activist Jamie Radtke at 6 percent, Northern Virginia television mogul Tim Donner at 2 percent, Chesapeake Bishop E.W. Jackson at 2 percent, and Hampton Roads lawyer David McCormick below 1 percent.

The firm did not poll Democratic primary voters, but Mr. Kaine is thought to hold a similarly sizable lead over other declared Democrats Courtney Lynch of Fairfax and Julien Modica of Reston.

Tom Howell Jr. and David Sherfinski contributed to this report.