On the heels of an informative Chicago Tribune editorial board gubernational debate among all five candidates, in an otherwise uninspiring race, the League of Women Voters and the Illinois Broadcasters Associations are pressing ahead with a strangely partisan decision to limit the discussion of an ABC-TV televised debate to only two candidates--Gov. Pat Quinn and State Sen. Bill Brady.
Sure enough, Republican Sen. Brady, received 155,527 votes in his party's primary.
And yet, Green Party gubernatorial candidate Rich Whitney won twice that number -- over 361,000 votes in 2006 -- establishing the Greens as the state's official third party.
The Illinois League's partisanship is a stark reversal from its national organization's much ballyhooed departure from the presidential debates 20-odd years ago, when the League accused the Democrats and Republicans of "perpetrating a fraud" by limiting such debates. Back in 1988, the League pulled no punches:
"It has become clear to us that the candidates' organizations aim to add debates to their list of campaign-trail charades devoid of substance, spontaneity and honest answers to tough questions," Neuman said. "The League has no intention of becoming an accessory to the hoodwinking of the American public."
Is the League--and the IBA--perpetrating such a "fraud" now? Is the League being fair and serving the public interest?
Echoing that sentiment today, the Peoria Journal Star recently noted the painfully lackluster race between the Democrats and Republicans, and questioned why an established and proven candidate like Whitney shouldn't be allowed to join the debate? The Journal Star concluded: "Every voice matters."
In fact, with the state facing a record budget crisis, and neither Democratic or Republican candidate able to propose an adequate solution, Illinois Issues columnist Charles Wheeler noted Whitney's unique role in the race:
In fact, only one candidate for governor has a comprehensive plan to solve the state's budget crisis, one in which the numbers actually work: the Green Party's Rich Whitney. The Carbondale attorney issued a 21-page platform on the state's tax structure and economic development, laying out in considerable detail his ideas for fixing the structural budget deficit and building a full employment economy.
Last month, the Chicago Tribune editorial board invited all five gubernatorial candidates to their chambers for a special interview and debate. Whitney's responses to the Trib's questionnaire dealt with the budget crisis, health care, job creation and education. The video of the candidates' debate is here:
Meanwhile, as Whitney and his statewide supporters call on the League and the IBA to open the debate, his campaign released this statement to Illinois voters: