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LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS REFUSE TO SPONSOR RIGGED GUBERNATORIAL DEBATE
Posted; 1:05 AM Eastern
Salem, Oregon --After defeating an election challange by Attorney Kelly Clark, who attempted to have her removed from the November ballot, Constitution Party gubernatorial candidate Mary Starrett is now being prevented from participating in the upcoming televised debate.
The Rogue Valley chapter of the League of Women Voters decided to withdraw its sponsorship of the gubernatorial debate because the two party-machine candidates -- Republican Saxton and incumbant Democrat Gov. Ted Kulongoski -- gave third party candidates the thumbs down.
According to the Mail Tribune, 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.
But the debate's co-sponsor KOBI Channel 5 joined forces with Saxton and Kulongoski to prevent Starrett and candidates from the Libertarian and Green parties to participate.
Theoretically, the Green Party could hurt Kulongoski chances for re-election opening up a chance for victory by Starrett. While he leads in the polls, his 44% poll number could decrease if Oregon's Green Party candidate Joseph Keating's message resonates with the state's left-wing voters.
"This proves that the two party system is a sham, designed to give the illusion of choice," said NewswithViews.com's Paul Walter.
While Walter expects the Democrats and Republicans attempt at stifling independent voices such as the Constitution Party, he's disappointed over a supposed nonpartisan media organization such as KOBI playing politics by nixing Mary Starrett's participation in an important debate.
League of Women Voters of the Willamette Valley are also standing up for choice by pulling out of co-sponsoring a debate with KATU TV in the Portland area for the same reason the Rogue Valley chapter did.
In a press statement, Mary Starrett commended the League's separate decisions to drop their sponsorship of scheduled televised debates because voters would be not allowed to hear about ALL their choices in the governor race.
Starrett said, "These groups stood their ground. In removing themselves as sponsors of the TV debates on KOBI TV in Medford and KATU TV in Portland, they have remained true to the voters."
Meanwhile, Saxton is wavering at about 34% and political observers claim he fears debating the popular and articulate Starrett, who is well known in Oregon thanks to her work as a news anchorwoman and a highly rated radio talk show. An open debate with Starrett would reveal that Saxton is a liberal attempting to portray himself as a conservative.
According to the Mail Tribune, after 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 told the reporter.
"They were given the format," she said, "but they agreed to everything but the 5 percent rule"
This 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.
While the League's sponsorship provides credibility to political debates, the gubernatorial 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.
Meanwhile, the Kulongoski and Saxton camps denied blocking the participation of third party candidates. For instance, Angela Wilhelms, spokesperson for the Saxton campaign who unsuccessfully attempted to have Starrett removed from the November ballot, 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."
But Bob Wise, vice president and general manager of KOBI, told the Tribune a different story: Wise said that after discussing the 5 percent issue with the Kulongoski and Saxton campaigns "It became apparent that that was an issue [for them]."
In essence, the Saxton and Kulongoski deny blocking Starrett and KOBI Channel 5's management is denying any involvement in banning her from the televised debate.
"Then who's keeping Starrett out of the debate? And why is the League of Women Voters withdrawing from co-sponsoring the debate with KOBI?" asks Paul Walter.
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