A press release was sent out earlier today by Independent candidate for Worcester County Sheriff’s candidate, Keith Nicholas, questioning why he wasn’t included in a debate on Sunday. He has also called for the other two candidates, Republican Lew Evangelidis and Democrat Tom Foley to:
Nicholas also stated “I am calling on the two party Candidates, Mr. Evangelidis and Mr. Foley, to not participate in anymore debates unless all Candidates are present. I would also like to challenge both Candidates to another public debate prior to Election Day.”
He also mentions in the press release he has learned of another debate on Thursday, October 21 in Grafton, which he has not been invited to.
This seems to be a recurring problem with independent or third-party candidates; the two major parties always wish to exclude them from participating. There are two schools of thought on whether these candidates should be included or not. The first school claims they should not be included because they are not legitimate candidates. The second argues that voters should be allowed to hear every candidate’s views.
The answer is not necessarily black and white. There are some independent and third party candidates who are legitimate and then there are those who are not. For example should the “Rent is too damn high” party in New York be considered a legitimate party and be included in debates? Or here in Massachusetts we have a candidate for Governor from the Green Party, should this be considered a legitimate party?
Look at the candidacy of Tim Cahill, former Democrat turned Independent. There are many who have doubted the “legitimacy” of his candidacy since it began, claiming his only reason for running for Governor is to draw votes away from Republican Charlie Baker, which will only help Democratic incumbent Deval Patrick.
So how can it be decided who should be included or not? How will the voter know if a candidate is legitimate if they are not allowed to hear them participate in a debate? As Nicholas states in his press release:
“I’m not sure if the Organizers or other Candidates feel threatened with my presence in the race, or if they simply feel an Independent Candidate is not a truly viable Candidate. Either way, it should be left up to the voters to decide.” Nicholas added.
With the current political climate in Massachusetts, the independent candidate will not be going away soon. There are over 60 candidates in this election who are considered independent. With those numbers, they have to be considered as legitimate, and need to be heard. Therefore, all candidates should be allowed to participate. It should be left to the moderator of the debate to rein in any candidate who appears to only be out to make some political statement, i.e. the “Rent is too damn high party”. This type of candidate, while good for a laugh, have a right to run and participate, can be silenced after their five minutes.
With the advent of the Tea Party movement, we will see even more independent candidates in the future. They should be heard and allowed to participate in all debates. The voters will decide if they are legitimate or not. Candidates like Nicholas, who have a legitimate message and is qualified for the position, should not be excluded from any debates. Like the two other candidates he deserves to be heard.