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Libertarian Candidate Cries, 'Why Not Me?'

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On Friday, as Cincinnati's WCPO-TV aired a forum for 1st Congressional seat candidates, a man protested outside, claiming he's been left out.

Jim Berns, 62, is running as the Libertarian candidate for the seat and claims Cincinnati media is purposefully excluding him from debates and news coverage.

"I said it was false advertising," Berns said. "When they promoted those debates, they didn't say there were also two other candidates and we didn't invite them."

The forum was sponsored by WCPO-TV, the Cincinnati Enquirer, the Cincinnati USA Regional Chapter, the Cincinnatus Association and the League of Women Voters. Republican candidate Steve Chabot and Democratic candidate Steve Driehaus were the only debate participates.

The League of Women Voters has five requirements that must be met in order to be included in debates. The candidate must be on the ballot, show signs of waging a formal campaign, articulate views on issues, raise money and have received support from at least 15 percent of the electorate in an independent vote.

A Survey USA poll released Sept. 30 shows Berns with 3 percent of the vote and Green Party candidate Rich Stevenson with 1 percent. Both were excluded from the debate.

This is Berns' 10th run for office, with previous aspirations including Cincinnati City Council, Congress and state representative.

"The American public is in an abusive relationship," Berns said. "If you were in a personal relationship like that, you'd get out. Well, the Democrats and Republicans have run up all these debts, they've raided the social security trust fund."

Berns claims that the reason he has been excluded from debates is the desire to restrict voter's exposure to two major-party candidates.

"It is part laziness," Berns said. "They don't want to have someone present options to the voters. It is very hypocritical for the League of Women Voters and the television news to want people to stay informed but not let two other parties join the debate."

Berns, a University of Cincinnati staff member, drew criticism in March when he protested in front of Republican candidate Steve Driehaus' home.

Berns drove a vehicle touting a fake coffin covered by an American flag and signs about the death and destruction of America's children. The protest was in response to Driehaus's approval of the president's health care bill.

This was not the first time Berns used props to get his message across.

"Usually I carry a 5-gallon bucket around with me, and it has all these holes drilled in the bottom," Berns said. "Our government and our representatives have drilled so many holes in our economic growth bucket, it's impossible for us to get growth until we plug up some of those holes."

Berns registered a complaint with the Ohio Elections Committee regarding his exclusion from debates. The election commission did not find probable cause for his complaint.