Jeopardy Host to Moderate Pennsylvania Debate

by | February 22, 2018

By Rob Tornoe

In 2012, longtime Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek admitted he would have loved to have been one of the questioners at a presidential debate between President Barack Obama and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney.

During the 2018 election cycle, he's getting his wish. Sort of.

Trebek, a native Canadian who became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1998, will moderate a 45-minute debate among Pennsylvania's 2018 gubernatorial candidates as part of the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry's annual dinner Oct. 1 at the Hershey Lodge in Dauphin County.

Invitations will be extended to all the major candidates, including Democratic incumbent Tom Wolf and the winner of a Republican primary that includes attorney Laura Ellsworth, businessman Paul Mango and state Sen. Scott Wagner. It's unclear if Libertarian Party candidate Ken Krawchuk will be invited to participate.

"Unlike some of the other moderators -- I'm not going to disparage them -- but I have a different approach," Trebek told The Hill in 2013 about his desire to moderate a political debate. "I would not let the politicians get away with standard responses. I would try to pin them down, even though I might look bad doing it."

So what are Trebek's politics? It's hard to say. During a 2012 discussion with Politico, Trebek offered some viewpoints typically ascribed to conservatives, such as the idea that people are relying too much on government and that there is "a sense of 'entitlement' in our society." But on other issues, like climate change and gay rights, Trebek sounds decidedly more liberal.

"I consider myself a social liberal and a fiscal conservative," Trebek said in an email to Salon in 2014. "I would point out that anyone who has ever asked me, or investigated, would know that I am a registered 'Independent,' and I have voted for both Democratic and Republican candidates in the past, and will continue to do so."

In addition to his role as debate moderator, Trebek also will serve as the dinner's keynote speaker, expected to discuss his unprecedented 34-year career as host of the popular quiz show, spanning more than 7,500 episodes. In fact, Trebek holds the Guinness Book of World Records award for "Most game show episodes hosted by the same presenter."

Dennis Owens, a news anchor for ABC27 in Harrisburg, will be the master of ceremonies.

Trebek returned to filming episodes of Jeopardy! in mid-January after surgery to treat a subdural hematoma -- blood clots on the brain -- caused by a fall in October. Due to the show's filming schedule, Trebek didn't miss an episode, enabling him ahead of the Super Bowl to mock contestants who couldn't provide a single response about the category "Football."

"Let's look at the $1,000 clue, just for the fun of it," joked Trebek, a longtime Redskins fan.