League of Women Voters Pulls Sponsorship

Good for the League of Women Voters for standing up to the major party candidates in Oregon and refusing to sponsor a debate that didn’t include all candidates polling at or above 5% support.

From the Mail-Tribune...

The League of Women Voters of the Rogue Valley has withdrawn its sponsorship of a planned gubernatorial debate because the two main candidates refused to allow challengers from minor parties to participate.

The League of Women Voters of Oregon recently opened its sponsored debates to any candidate who receives at least 5 percent support in an independent poll. Until last year, the league required a candidate to poll at least 10 percent to participate.

After seven months of planning, the league decided it wouldn’t co-sponsor the debate with KOBI Channel 5 because Gov. Ted Kulongoski, his Republican challenger Ron Saxton, and KOBI managers were all unwilling to open the debate to candidates who could show at least 5 percent support to participate, said Trish Bowcock, president of the League of Women Voters of the Rogue Valley.

“We were put in the position of saying we wouldn’t follow our own rules, and we couldn’t do that,” Bowcock said.

“They were given the format,” she said, “but they agreed to everything but the 5 percent rule.”

The decision means the debate will be closed to Mary Starrett, the Constitution party’s candidate for governor, as well as Libertarian candidate Richard Morley and Joseph Keating of the Pacific Green Party of Oregon.

Although the league has dropped its sponsorship, the debate is still scheduled for live broadcast on Channel 5 from 6:30 to 8 p.m., Oct. 24. The league estimated that the debate could reach as many as 380,000 registered voters in Southern Oregon.

Kulongoski and Saxton will field questions from members of the news media, including Bob Hunter, Mail Tribune editor.

Representatives from the Kulongoski and Saxton camps had their own explanations for why the league decided to withdraw.

Anna Richter Taylor, said the Kulongoski campaign’s only condition concerned when the polling had to be completed to determine which candidates would be involved in the forum.

“We wanted to know when they were going to make the decision,” she said.

Richter Taylor said the governor’s campaign welcomed the league’s sponsorship.

“We never put conditions around their involvement,” she added.

Angela Wilhelms, spokesperson for the Saxton campaign, said she wasn’t aware of any concern about minor-party candidates.

“We were given a format and asked to participate and we agreed,” she said. “We haven’t had any follow-up conversations with anybody about this.”

Bob Wise, vice president and general manager of KOBI, said, “I would have loved to have worked with the League of Women Voters.”

Wise said that after discussing the 5 percent issue with the Kulongoski and Saxton campaigns “It became apparent that that was an issue.”

He said the Kulongoski and Saxton campaigns wanted to set the limit at 10 percent support for a minor candidate, which Wise described as “reasonable.”

“It didn’t seem like an unrealistic expectation of the candidates participating,” said Wise. He said it was important to continue to hold the forum in the interests of his viewers even though the league has dropped its sponsorship.

Margaret Noel, chairwoman of the League of Women Voters of Oregon education fund, said it is very difficult for any minor party candidate to get 5 percent support. She said she had not seen any polls so far that showed any of the minor candidates with 5 percent.

Noel said the filing deadline for gubernatorial candidates is next Tuesday, so it would have been premature to say that no other contenders should be in the debate.

She said the league also wants to extend the deadline for minor candidates to show 5 percent support right up until the time of the debate.

“If a candidate had got the 5 percent, they would deserve to be in the debate,” she said.

8 Responses to “League of Women Voters Pulls Sponsorship”

  1. Doug Kenline Says:

    Good article. Thank you.

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  2. citizens for a better veterans homes Says:

    Those ladies ‘have balls’!

  3. Sean Scallon Says:

    Kudos to the League of Women Voters for telling the major parties where to cram it. If they want to set up their own debates that’s fine but they have no business telling a private organization how to conduct its business. Either play by their rules or don’t play, it’s that simple.

  4. citizens for a better veterans homes Says:

    The intended intimidation by the establishment reminds me of the non government amatuer sports/ Olympic committees bowing to that Peanut Farmer and Jack Ass of Fascist Trades and the bipartisan pressure of blowing off the Olympics (for the first time since 1896) in the John Anderson/ Patrick Lucey year of 1980. I will go to my grave hating that White House thug!

  5. citizen1 Says:

    Were all the candidates even included in the polls. I have in the past been called by these poll they ask if you are for (the name of the Republican) or (the name of the Democrat). When I give them the name of the candidate that I am voting for whose name will appear on the ballot even if it is myself, they say “I will put you down as undecided.” How do you ever reach 5% like that?

  6. undercover_anarchist Says:

    Kudos to the LOWV for sticking to their guns and standing up for democracy.

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