Libertarian Party

Libertarian Party Candidates, In and Out of Debates

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Last week I profiled three Libertarian Party candidates who had been polling well enough to sway the results of their elections—Sean Haugh (running for federal Senate in North Carolina), David Patterson (running for Senate from Kentucky, against incumbent Mitch McConnell), and Adrian Wyllie (running for governor from Florida.)

Haugh has achieved that rarity for an L.P. candidate—presence in a public debate with his major party opponents, Democratic incumbent Kay Hagen and Republican challenger Thom Tillis—last week. 

You can watch that debate in full at North Carolina station WECT's website.

Haugh was particularly sharp, I think, on the duel between his opponents over who could seem more willing to start another war in the Mid-East. (His answer on gay marriage seems to imply the classically hardcore "no government role in marriage at all" line, though he doesn't say it in so many words, and expresses personal happiness with letting anyone marry anyone.)

Alas, the legal challenge from Kentucky's Patterson about being excluded from a debate has failed. Details from the Courier-Journal:

U.S. District Judge Gregory F. Van Tatenhove ruled that Kentucky Educational Television did not exclude David Patterson from its Kentucky Tonight program solely because of his political views. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled public broadcasters can exclude candidates based on their level of support but not because of their political views.

"The First Amendment is not a rule of quantity at any cost," Van Tatenhove wrote. "Voters may actually benefit by a forum or debate that includes only those candidates that have a realistic chance of winning rather than many voices competing for very limited time. What KET cannot do is pick and choose candidates based on their viewpoints. KET has not done so here."

Patterson is not pleased:

Patterson, in a news release, criticized KET for requiring candidates raise a minimum of $100,000 to appear in the debate.

"That means you must be rich or have rich friends to even stand a chance," Patterson said. "Kentuckians now have their hard-earned tax dollars being used to deprive them of knowing their options when they walk into the ballot box."

Patterson's full press release.

The Tallahassee Democrat's Bob Gabordi muses over Wyllie's so-far failed attempts to sue his way into a debate this Wednesday, and thinks he ought to play his part:

Wyllie claims in his federal lawsuit that the debate criteria were changed to keep him out. Debate organizers say the criteria have been the same since August 2013, when they were announced.They include requiring that candidates show at least 15-percent support in "a reputable and independent poll conducted between September 1 and 30, 2014."

Dean Ridings, president and CEO of the press association….said the debate organizers have been expecting the suit by Wyllie and are prepared to defend their decision not to include him….

But….there are good reasons to allow him on stage.

Either Scott or Crist will be elected governor, have no doubt about that. But in all likelihood, the margin of victory will be smaller than the number of votes Wyllie receives. In other words, how well Wyllie does could be the difference in this election, assuming he does not pull votes equally from the other two candidates. Recent polls show the difference between Crist and Scott too narrow to call.

Why not give voters the opportunity to see if he deserves to be an alternative to voting for one of the front-runners? Wyllie will help decide the outcome of this election, so why not have him there?

Why not indeed? Polling beating the polled spread between the top two candidates seems like a more useful numerical standard than 15 percent.