The fix appears to be in. Despite attaining major party ballot access in New Hampshire for the first time in twenty years, the Libertarian Party of NH has been unfairly excluded from the biggest debates – those hosted by WMUR-TV. How? According to the rules the ABC affiliate announced last month, in order to be invited to their debates, the candidate must be polling at over 12%.
Guess what? There have been no polls that have included the libertarian candidates!
It’s not like WMUR and their newspaper partner the Union Leader can use the excuse that without their rules there would be too many candidates on stage. There are three ballot qualified candidates for governor in New Hampshire. There are three candidates each in the two US House races.
Oh yeah, and they want the candidate to have $25,000 in the bank. So, only wealthy candidates may apply.
Is there any doubt the WMUR debate organizers are working hand-in-hand with the republicans and democrats to exclude the libertarians? Thankfully, many of NH’s local media like newspapers and radio have been fair to the libertarian candidates, like the Keene Sentinel, whose editorial board recently interviewed Jilletta Jarvis.
According to Jarvis, if she’s invited to a debate, the other candidates will protest. She told me that North Country Community Radio recently invited all three gubernatorial candidates to debate. Incumbent republican Chris Sununu responded and declined the station’s invitation and democrat Molly Kelly ignored their invite entirely. Instead of the planned debate, the station gave a two hour interview to Jarvis and reminded their audience of the major candidates’ conspicuous absence.
Though Jarvis was told personally by WMUR’s Political Director Adam Sexton that the Libertarian candidate for governor WOULD be invited to debate, News Director Alisha McDevitt later told Jarvis that Sexton was not authorized to make that promise on behalf of WMUR. Sexton by the way, HAS been fair to the Libertarians in his various coverage – kudos to him for that.
If you’re upset by these blatantly biased rules, please reach out to the debate organizers at WMUR and the Union Leader and let them know how you feel. NH congressional district two candidate Justin O’Donnell has created a petition you can sign here. Jilletta Jarvis, the LP’s gubernatorial candidate has set up a page from which you can send an email to the News Director at WMUR, Alisha McDevitt.
Hopefully your input can help Ms. McDevitt change her mind, do the right thing, and invite the Libertarians to debate the two-party duopoly, giving the people of New Hampshire an actual choice.
Interestingly, Jarvis’ campaign has raised more than any other LP candidate for governor since 1994, but she’s still $16,000 short of WMUR’s $25,000 campaign finance goal. You can donate to her campaign here.