From Jeff Becker
To the Editor:
Here we go again. On Aug. 28 the West Virginia State Chamber of Commerce sponsored a U.S. Senate candidates’ debate at the exclusive Greenbrier Resort, but only invited establishment favorites Shelley Moore Capito and Natalie Tennant. It was openly stated then that “third party” candidates were not invited. Constitution Party nominee Phil Hudok drove down anyway and spoke personally with Shelly and Natalie, who both told him that they agreed all candidates should be included. A new debate is now scheduled for Oct. 7 (to be televised statewide from Charleston) but again the majority of ballot-qualified candidates are being excluded.
In the 2010 special U.S. Senate race to replace the late Robert C. Byrd, four candidates, myself included, were invited to a televised debate; in 2012, the Mountain Party’s Bob Baber debated on TV. Phil Hudok and Libertarian nominee John Buckley have both been interviewed recently on debate moderator Hoppy Kercheval’s MetroNews Talk Line radio program (archived at downloads.hudok.com/Interview_3_3_14-112kbps.mp3 and wvmetronews.com/shows/talkline/ – Sept. 2nd) so they are obviously recognized as viable candidates. Kercheval and fellow talk show host Howard Monroe planned the October debate on air on the Aug. 15 edition (also archived) of the Talk Line show.
The AARP is sponsoring the October debate and states that their broadcast goal is to “provide all voters with as much information as possible about candidate issues.” They also want to “make sure that candidates address the issues important to older voters …” How can they expect to achieve that when more than half of the candidates are being excluded from the discussion? The Constitution, Libertarian, and Mountain parties have their own unique issue positions which are certainly of interest to many of our state’s voters. All three parties have an active political history here over the past several decades and all three of their nominees are older than Shellie and Natalie. Who better to address the concerns of our seniors than the most senior candidates?
The most important role of the media in our political process is to inform citizens so that they are able to make educated voting choices. The West Virginia Press Association, also a sponsor of this event, just announced its slate of new officers and directors. I implore them to heed the actual preferences of our congresswoman and Secretary of State and rectify this situation, and invite all five candidates to this year’s U.S. Senate debate.