US Senate Candidates Join Forces in AP Debate Debacle

VC note:  To follow is the latest press release from the Donner campaign regarding the issue of U.S. Senate debates.  I wish they could have offered additional specific details, such as which GOP committee passed the resolution and which other candidates are involved.  Nevertheless, given my previous posts, I’m quite interested to hear how this issue turns out.
Great Falls, VA – September 28, 2011 – At least three US Senate candidates have joined forces to call on the Associated Press to sponsor primary debates for both parties.

Republican Senatorial Candidate Tim Donner initiated the bipartisan call after AP announced that it was sponsoring a general election debate that excludes all but the two establishment candidates for the US Senate almost nine months before the primaries. The two real primary debates would be in addition to the previously announced general election debate on December 7.

Donner told Richmond’s WRVA talk show host, Doc Thompson, on his program earlier this week, “I am calling on the AP to use this opportunity to correct the situation by inviting all of the announced candidates in both the Republican and Democratic parties to participate in actual primary debates.”

“This will allow the AP to constructively advance the cause of informing voters of all the choices available to them and hold true to its own statement that ‘any time a question is raised about any aspect of our work, it should be taken seriously,’” Donner added.

At least one GOP County Committee has already passed a resolution insisting that all candidates be invited to participate in the December 7 debate.

“It is heartening to see the momentum building for this effort. And I am hopeful that Republicans and Democrats can present a united front in what is most certainly a fair and reasonable request on behalf of the voters of Virginia,” Donner said.

A full list of Senate candidates participating in this initiative will be released once all the campaigns have responded to the invitation. Donner has called on voters to contact Dorothy Abernathy, AP Bureau Chief, at (804) 643-6646, and ask her to sponsor primary debates that include all candidates.

The GOP Senate Race is Over?

Although there are still many months until the Republican primary for Virginia’s Senate seat, some people are already calling the result.  Now such personal predictions don’t bother me.  It is true that George Allen is leading in race currently, in much the same way as Rick Perry is leading in the race for President.  One, both, or neither of them could end up winning.  If you will recall, four years ago Rudy Giuliani was the clear front-runner for the GOP nomination for President while John McCain’s campaign seems to be in total disarray. We all know how that situation played out.  However, when the press starts picking winners and losers, I certainly have a problem.

Yesterday, I received word, first from the Radtke campaign and then from the Donner campaign, that the Virginia Associated Press and the Virginia Capitol Correspondents Association have more or less determined the outcome of the race.  They just announced a Senate candidate debate in December.  Rather than inviting all of the legitimate Republican candidates, presently they are only allowing George Allen and Tim Kaine to participate.  Now this event would be all well and good if both Allen and Kaine were their respective party nominees.  But, as the primary has not taken place, they are not.

Although I would expect that most of the conservative activists who support Allen would merely shrug and consider it a win for Allen, the press is tampering with something far larger and more important than this one election.  Sure, many debates have limited candidates based upon exceedingly low poll numbers, but a threshold of 15%?  Is that reasonable?  And then you add the additional hurdle of fundraising too?  As the Radtke campaign writes, “By their logic, an AP / VCCA presidential debate in Virginia would include only Rick Perry, Mitt Romney and Barack Obama. The AP and VCCA would exclude Ron Paul (9.8%), Michele Bachmann (6.8%), Newt Gingrich (6.2%), Herman Cain (5.4%), Rick Santorum (1.8%) and Jon Huntsman (1.4%).

As the Donner campaign asks, “Do you want the chance to elect your own candidates, or do you think the media and pollsters in league with the usual cronies should decide that for you?”  For anyone who has the slightest desire to uphold our system of representative democracy, the answer is obvious.

I recommend emailing the Virginia Associated Press at dabernathy@ap.org and the VCCA at officers@vapress.org.  Take a stand.  Let them know that the voters, not the press, have the duty to select our nominees.