From Gene Stalnaker
To the Editor,
I see where West Virginia Public Broadcasting is sponsoring a U.S. Senate Candidates’ debate on Oct. 7, but only inviting the Republican and Democrat and not the Constitution, Libertarian, or Mountain Party candidates. In 1998, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that they were allowed to do this, but that ruling was based on Justice Anthony M. Kennedy’s opinion that stations could “make a good faith assessment of a candidate’s public support.” In this case, all three alternative candidates have previously either run for or held public office and do have public support. Phil Hudok got almost two percent of the vote when he ran for congress against Shelley Moore Capito in 2010, Bob Baber is the former Mayor of Richwood, and John Buckley is a former elected Virginia state legislator. The AARP’s five percent rule is thus clearly arbitrary. Perhaps we should call it “AARPitrary.” All three men are very articulate and there would be no “cacophony” as justice Kennedy and the Republican-lead SCOTUS majority claimed.
A state-run operation like WVPBS should not be allowed to assess a candidate’s
viability and declare someone a “fringe candidate.” Minor party candidates are underfunded and rely on sources like public television to reach voters and expand their name recognition. And Secretary Tennant, as the head of a state organization, should be ashamed of herself for agreeing to participate in this since she is supposed to be committed to fair election practices for all candidates. I think some serious ethical questions should be raised here since both women’s salaries are paid by We the Taxpayers!