Jay Inslee now says he'll participate in a June gubernatorial debate sponsored by the Association of Washington Business.

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In a reversal, Democrat Jay Inslee now says he’ll participate in a June 12 gubernatorial debate in Spokane sponsored by the Association of Washington Business (AWB).

Inslee’s campaign had rejected the debate earlier this week, saying AWB had acted in bad faith and collaborated with Republican Attorney General Rob McKenna on the scheduling of the event.

But on Wednesday, Inslee notified AWB he would show up.

An Inslee aide denied his change of heart was due to negative publicity from his earlier refusal to attend the debate, which had been widely mocked by Republicans.

“We had been hoping that we could find a different date, one that could be closer to the election,” said Inslee spokeswoman Jaime Smith. “But if they are committed to doing that date in June, fine, we’ll try to make that work.”

AWB previously has held its debates in September, but moved this one up to June. The debate, held since 1992, has traditionally drawn both major-party candidates.

“We are pleased that candidate Inslee will participate in our debate and look forward to having a vigorous discussion of the key issues facing Washington state before a live audience,” AWB President Don Brunell said in a written statement.

Charles McCray, spokesman for the McKenna campaign, said, “We’re glad Mr. Inslee gave in to public pressure, regained his senses and agreed to the AWB debate.”

Inslee, a seven-term congressman from Bainbridge Island, resigned his post this month to devote himself full time to the governor’s race.

Jim Brunner: 206-515-5628 or jbrunner@seattletimes.com. On Twitter @Jim_Brunner.