13 October, 2006

Green Candidates Feeling Blue About Debate Snubs


Howie Hawkins is feeling left out.

The Green Party candidate for the the U.S. Senate from New York says he's being kept out of two upcoming debates between incumbent Democrat Sen. Hillary Clinton, who has spent $30 million so far in her campaign, and her Republican challenger John Spencer.

The debates in question are scheduled for Oct. 20 in Rochester - arranged by (not surprisingly) NY1 - and Oct. 22 in New York at the studious of WABC-TV.

The latest Zogby Poll on the New York races, released on Tuesday, shows Hawkins' support among independent voters at 21%, just three points short of Spencer's numbers in that voting group.

That showing, Hawkins believes, should be enough to get him invited to the debate.

The WABC debate is sponsored by the League of Women Voters and Zogby, but Hawkins doesn't put the blame for his snub at their feet.

"The corporate media - Time Warner, WABC, Univision and the Buffalo News -have conspired with the corporate-funded candidates Clinton and Spencer to keep the New York voters from hearing from the candidate who gives voice to the views of the majority of New Yorkers on key issues like the war, health care and the energy crisis. Spencer and Clinton have the same general positions on these issues and argue over the details. Clinton and the corporate interests don't want the voters to hear from the candidate committed to immediate withdrawal from Iraq, universal health care through a single public payer, and building a renewable energy infrastructure in order to create jobs, build peace, and protect the environment," Hawkins added.

The Green Party claims the problem is not unique to New York, saying its candidates have been snubbed in debates in states across the country.

The problem, of course, is also not unique to the Greens. The former Democratic challenger in this race, Jonathan Tasini, who scored in the upper teens on primary night, was refused the opportunity to debate because he hadn't raised enough money to be considered a serious candidate by NY1.

To me that thinking is ass-backwards. A candidate debate should provide an opportunity for candidates who can't afford to pay their way into the electorate's consciousness to be able to get their message out. But that would ruin the whole one-on-one "grudge-match" sort of hype the TV stations present in publicizing the events.


RNN and the League of Women Voters were hoping to bring together the two candidates for Congress from New York's 19th District for a debate.

That apparently will not happen.

WRNN-TV's News Director had hand delivered today a pointed letter to Republican incumbent Sue Kelly who, Dudley says, has ignored repeated requests by RNN to appear in a debate with Democrat John Hall on Tuesday. Dudley, in the letter, told Kelly the debate would go on, with or without her, and that if she were not there she would be subbed for by an empty chair. The letter was released to the media. You can view it here. (Once you open it you may have to click on it once or twice to magnify the font.)


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