Today is a strategy consideration day.
From a third party or independent standpoint, it is imperative to get on the stage with the candidates of the major parties. It is always to your benefit in that it allows the public to see you as a genuine and viable candidate, as well as allowing you to expound on your ideas.
Since you sit beholden to no group and have a philosophy rather than an agenda, you will do well not getting between the two party candidates. They will want to duke it out. You can remain the solid voice of reason that can call both out at a moment’s notice. Use this to your advantage.
While it is obvious that being on stage will help the campaign in a myriad of ways, the actually getting there is often a problem. For non-party candidates, the media is brutal in allowing coverage. From their viewpoint it is understandable in that having a dozen candidates on stage really does take away from the purpose and makes organizing a nightmare.
The balance is the catch-22 of the situation. Without exposure, other candidates rarely have the money or means of getting their point of view across to the public. By excluding these candidates based on minimal support criteria, the media looks (and likely has) chosen the “real” candidates without the public’s participation other than the few who have answered a poll.
It is the system and until it changes, there is no real sense of trying to buck it. Instead, use the argument of inequity and hope that the public will support it.
In 1994 I worked very hard, not necessarily to win, but to get on the debates. Foolishly, early in the campaign Channel 10 had sent out an invitation to all the candidates without stating its criteria for participation. When they tried to exclude me, I made it an issue on the talk radio and other media outlets. Fairness, along with their ‘backing out’, allowed me the leverage to get to participate.
With very little money in the campaign, I nearly picked up 10% of the vote in that election. I believe I was the first non-major party gubernatorial candidate to win the vote in a city or town, having won the town of Warren.
The significance of Warren is that the people had elected me in the past, were familiar with my style in office, and after a decade of my being out of office, saw fit to give me their votes. For this factor alone I will always be grateful to the people of Warren.
Back from the sidetrack, the idea was to get on the debates.
In this race, coming with statewide name recognition and the fact that almost 40% of the voters in the last election voted for me, there is a new strategy needed.
Considering that almost 40% of the voters in the last election gave up their third party/independent fears and chose me, these people have already gotten past the looks and the fear of voting outside of the party. This is a huge advantage that few realize. It is no longer about the looks or third parties. It is now the issues.
Thus, in this race, the strategy has to be that you assume inclusion. My two opponents have agreed to a limited debate schedule (four in all). So far, I have written invitations to two (Channels 6 and 12). One of the other two has indicated it will have me when they set up the terms (Channel 10). The fourth is the Chamber of Commerce debate. I have yet to hear a peep from them.
It would be perfect if they chose to exclude me. The people would likely not agree with the exclusion in that I have a message to deliver, even if it upsets the powers that be.
I am not working to be excluded, but to do so would be a great boost to my campaign. It would allow the debate to focus on who controls the process outside of the public. The press coverage, especially on the night of the debate, would be near priceless.
So, from here, the idea is to work on debate preparation. Look for a lucky fumble on the part of the debate producers. Stand ready in either situation. The campaign is sitting in a win-win at this point, especially where the opponents have given to their fears of being on stage to defend their stand to the public.