Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Media Coverage for Longshot and Third Party Candidates: Do They Deserve It?

In a press release distributed earlier today, Democratic US Senate candidate Dennis Rasmussen complained about his exclusion from an upcoming candidates forum. The League of Women Voters of Maryland's debate will feature only Ben Cardin and Kweisi Mfume.

Rasmussen posits he was shunned as the result of an unscrupulous ploy by the sponsor to trick voters into naively thinking they have only two choices, both of whom the conservative former Baltimore County Executive considers liberals.

Wrong. The League of Women Voters of Maryland explained that the decision to invite only the two frontrunners was one of logistics. 18 Democrats are running for their party's nomination. To include all of them in a short candidates' forum would not only be physically challenging, but it would rob voters of the opportunity to hear more than a few lines from the few office seekers who actually stand a chance of winning. The participants weren't chosen for their liberal politics but simply because they lead in the polls.

Rasmussen's complaint echoes those voiced by trailing and third party candidates across the state. They bemoan fewer invitations to debates and other events and grouse about less media coverage.

But the decision to focus on candidates who are likely to win office is a responsible one.

It only takes a form and a few bucks to run for office. It takes hard work and dedication for a real shot to win. If the press wasted our time with stories everytime one of the far-fetched aspirants sends out a press release, we wouldn't have the time to closely examine the positions and tactics of candidates who will likely win the race.

This isn't to say we should ignore all beyond-runner-up candidates in primaries and third party competitors in generals. They can play important roles by shifting the electoral balance or offering fresh ideas. But however important it is for voters to be informed of all choices, it is even more important for them to be well informed about the choices who will likely win office.

The debate will be simulcast live Thursday at 7pm on Maryland Public Television and WAMU.

MPT does not provide in-depth focus on frontrunners at the total expense of other candidates. The public television station has given many candidates in state races the opportunity to introduce themselves to voters. The ongoing Debate Week by The People has featured segments with shoe-ins and longshots alike.

from The League: Reassembled


Blogger Sara da Muse said...

The problem is that those who arrange debates, fora, etc. may influence the outcome of the elections by who they choose to feature. From the beginning articles in the paper, pieces on tv, and others decide who is viable -- that can shape the outcome of the race more than the realities of experience, skills, good ideas, money, support, etc. So then the real question is who decides who gets in, who is a viable candidate? In this race it seems pretty obvious at this point who should be in, but it isn't always. Too often it seems like an arbitrary decision is made or arbitrary cutoff is created, limiting the choices of the electorate.

8/30/2006 09:59:00 AM  
Blogger Robin Ficker said...

Maryland has had two U.S. Senators from Baltimore City since l987. To ask that we continue this practice for six more years is asking too much. Yet this forum is confined to two guys from Baltimore. We in the Washington area will never get our fair share of Metro money at this rate. The League needs to be Reassembled all right -- into a non partisan, fair group of voters.

8/30/2006 03:33:00 PM  
Blogger Rfustero said...

In 2002, the NAACp held a forum for the gubenatorial primary. Excluded from this forum were Dr. Ross Pierpont, James Sheridan, Spear Lancaster and me.

Some of us complained but to no avail. The answer given by the NAACP is that they chose only those candidates with double digit
poll results.

Although Dr. Pierpont and Mr. Sheridan received only single digit
percentage votes in the primary, I received 20%.

All candidates should be given a fair chance. Sometimes, it is the only chance they get-

9/01/2006 09:47:00 PM  

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