The Gubernatorial Debate

IMG_1089Recently, Virginia Republican gubernatorial nominee Ken Cuccinelli has been promoting the idea of a series of debates between himself and Democratic nominee Terry McAuliffe.  The Cuccinelli campaign has suggested fifteen debates across the commonwealth in a variety of locations including one in the Shenandoah Valley, in the city of Harrisonburg.

However, so far the McAuliffe campaign has not accepted this idea.  As a result, the Cuccinelli camp has run a series of ads on Facebook and elsewhere insisting that Virginians deserve a multitude of opportunities to hear from and learn about their choices for governor in November.

Now, I absolutely agree that debates serve as an important tool in campaigning and a handful of lively contests are exceedingly valuable.  For that reason, I wrote against my own representative back in 2010 when he refused to attend a debate sponsored by James Madison University.  Should McAuliffe agree to at least a few debates?  Yes, a thousand times, yes!

Unfortunately in this situation, Cuccinelli has fallen into the same trap as Representative Goodlatte did three years prior; the debate ought to be used as a forum to allow all candidates that will appear on the ballot to express his or her opinions.  Goodlatte would not debate back in 2010 because he only faced third party opposition.  Cuccinelli wants to debate in 2013 but according to fellow blogger Rick Sincere, plans to exclude at least one other candidate, Libertarian Party nominee Rob Sarvis.  This news is deeply disappointing.

This whole situation has echoes back to the national stage.  After Ross Perot’s performance during the presidential elections, Republican and Democratic operatives got together to make certain that independent and third party candidates would be excluded from future debates.  They created a monopoly among their parties.  After the Green, Libertarian, Constitution, and Justice Parties weren’t invited to take part in the 2012 Presidential debates, an organization called Free & Equal hosted a debate where all of the candidates, along with the two major party candidates, were invited to participate.  Not surprisingly, neither Barack Obama nor Mitt Romney chose to attend.

I applaud the Cuccinelli campaign in their effort to bring the candidates to a vast number of citizens across Virginia.  However, to exclude any eligible candidate based upon his or her party (or lack thereof) is unacceptable.  Debates are a great thing, but to be legitimate, they must allow all of candidates the chance to express their opinions.

10 Replies to “The Gubernatorial Debate”

  1. I’m going to have to disagree here. If this were a publicly funded forum or something, sure, Rob should be invited. But the face of the matter is that it isn’t. Until the LP can at least elect a few members of the HoD, they shouldn’t be taken seriously. For whatever reason, they’ve chosen to run a gubernatorial candidate in the year when we have the most pro-liberty GOP nominee in generations. OK, fine. But Ken is under no obligation to see to it that Rob has a platform. It’s the responsibility of the LP to do the work, recruit, build an organization and be worthy of inclusion. Until they do, they’re a sideshow. Liberty activists who want to actually accomplish something belong in the GOP.

  2. Which GOP– Rand Paul and Justin Amash? Or the GOP of Bolling and Goodlatte? The problem here is that the mainstream “electables” in the main parties can’t defend what they really believe in, or are afraid to. Regardless of vote-getting capability (which has to do more with money and party organization than anything else) neither Dem or Republican wants to have to agree with a Libertarian or any third party publicly — or to attack and alienate them. In fact the only way to make people think the GOP is any different than the Democrats and vice versa is to debate each other WITHOUT a libertarian on the stage keeping them honest.

    1. Remember, parties don’t represent ideologies; they’re brands. They live to propagate themselves, and like your example Good latte, and to an even greater extent, Bill Bolling, in many cases the politicians themselves don’t stand for much of anything. We can change that.

  3. It’s worth noting that even professional debating organizations — especially those that sponsor debates between D and R presidential candidates — submit to the restrictions of both candidates. In other words, it ultimately provides just another platform for catch phrases and it’s why we see so little “Debate.” When Crowley corrected Romney last round, she stepped completely outside of the guidelines. She did what many Americans would want hosts to do — ideally correct ALL the candidates on the facts — but I doubt she’ll be invited back to host given the Commission’s constraints.

    I strongly desire third party candidates debating alongside the Ds and Rs. It is not only more democratic, but it will push both Ds and Rs to clearly articulate their positions without the rhetorical leeway.

  4. Interesting discussion on the debate- so is the solution to have the Sarvis campaign set up a platform to debate the other two? Or, may be, only Cuccinelli would agree and then it would be VERY interesting to highlight the differences between the “strong liberty minded” Republican and the true liberty candidate.

    1. I’m guessing that if the Sarvis campaign set up something, it would be ignored by the larger campaigns. The idea, in my mind, is to have some large, neutral, and well-known organization to sponsor the event so that it would be difficult for any candidate to refuse without garnering a lot of negative press.

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