Buying Your Way Into the Debate


While there was initially some doubt that his stunt would work, Libertarian Party Senate candidate in Washington state Bruce Guthrie managed to meet the stated rules for getting invited to a candidate debate by lending $1.2 million of his own money to his campaign. Thus, he will be appearing at an Oct. 17th debate sponsored by local TV station KING-5, the Seattle Times, and a gaggle of other local media and civic organizations.

He'll be up against incumbent Democrat Maria Cantwell and Republican challenger Mike McGavick. Cantwell has been leading 8-10 percent in the polls. Guthrie needed to have gathered at least 10 percent of what the previous winner, Sen. Patty Murray, has gathered, which was $12.1 million in third quarter 2004.

Interestingly, Guthrie's move opened up a chance under America's absurd and highly restrictive campaign finance laws for his Republican opponent to gather more money than he would otherwise be legally able to do; see the complicated rules of the FEC's "millionaires' amendment." As the Seattle Times explained it,

McGavick would be able to ask donors who gave the maximum $4,200 for an additional $2,100 until he raised a total of $840,000. After that, the lower limit would go back into effect.

Cantwell, because she has more money in the bank, would not be allowed to raise money over the contribution limits.