Ignored by Republican Tom Foley, the League of Women Voters said today it was pulling the plug on three televised gubernatorial debates planned for Bridgeport, Stamford and Danbury.
But there still will be at least four gubernatorial and three U.S. Senate debates televised between Oct. 4 and 29, though none will include minor-party candidates.
The Independent Party’s candidate for governor, Tom Marsh, had met the League’s criteria for inclusion in the cancelled debates, as has the party’s Senate candidate, Warren Mosler, for a series of Senate debates.
The criteria includes evidence of a significant campaign and public support, including having raised $50,000. John Mertens, a minor-party candidate for Senate, is on the ballot, but he did not meet the League’s criteria.
“We cleared their hurdles, and they invited us. We were ecstatic,” said Alice Marshall, a spokeswoman for Mosler, a successful businessman. “Warren is running to get out a message about full employment and prosperity, and this would have been a chance to be heard.”
Mertens, a Trinity College professor, said minor-party candidates often make points and introduce issues shunned by the major-party candidates.
“They don’t answer questions in debates. They are rehearsed on how not to answer questions. The real answers come from third-party candidates,” Mertens said.
The League’s Senate debates have not been cancelled, but they are in jeopardy, as Democrat Richard Blumenthal and Republican Linda McMahon have not agreed to attend.
In the governors race, Foley never responded to invitations for the League’s debates in Bridgeport, Stamford and Danbury that were to be sponsored by the Hearst Newspapers and broadcast by WABC. Hearst has newspapers in all three cities.
“It’s the first time it’s the non-response of a major party” that prompted the cancellation of League debates,” said Patricia Donovan, the organization’s coordinator of voter services.
“These three debates just didn’t fit into Tom’s schedule,” said Liz Osborn, a spokeswoman for the Foley.
But there will be other opportunities to see Foley debate Democrat Dan Malloy – or McMahon and Blumenthal face off in the U.S. Senate race.
Starting Wednesday, Foley and Malloy will share a stage a dozen times, including four televised debates. McMahon and Blumenthal will face each other three times, all on television.
The televised gubernatorial debates: Oct. 5 on Fox61, Oct. 13 on WTNH, Oct. 19 on WFSB, CPTV and WNPR and Oct. 29 on NBC30.
The televised Senate debates: Oct. 4 on Fox61, Oct. 7 on Cablevision 12 and Oct. 12 on WTNH. Those are the debates that Blumenthal accepted last month.
McMahon’s campaign said Blumenthal has limited the debates and other joint appearance, some on national televison.
“He has refused to agree to at least a half dozen other invitations — including Meet the Press, Fox News Sunday, and a CBS/New York Times [forum] — all of which we were open to. At this point, we’re operating under the assumption that there will only be three debates, because Blumenthal wasn’t comfortable with additional debates,” said Ed Patru a spokesman for McMahon.
Patru was unsure if McMahon would agree to an additional debate if Blumenthal accepts the League’s invitation.
A Blumenthal aide said the campaign had not ruled out attending one of the League debates. But the campaign did not respond to requests for additional comment.
Candidate forums for governor
September 28, 7 p.m.: education debate at Macdonough School in Middletown, sponsored by ConnCan. Malloy and Marsh. Tickets required. UPDATE: Foley says he will attend.
September 29, 11 a.m.: tourism forum, Connecticut Convention Center, Hartford. Foley, Malloy and Marsh.
October 1, 11:30 a.m.: business forum sponsored by Greenwich/Stamford chambers of commerce, Hyatt Regency Greenwich. Tickets required. Foley and Malloy.
October 4, 6 p.m.: Progresso Latino forum, New Haven. Foley and Malloy.
October 5, 7 p.m.: Courant/Fox61 televised debate at The Bushnell in Hartford. Tickets required. Foley and Malloy.
October 6, 9 a.m.: Connecticut Conference of Municipalities, Connecticut Convention Center, Hartford. Foley, Malloy and Marsh.
October 7, 8 a.m.: AJ and Chaz show, live radio debate broadcast by WPLR. Foley and Malloy.
October 7, 4 p.m.: Connecticut Partnership for Growth Forum, Northeast Utilities, Berlin. Foley and Malloy.
October 13, 7 p.m.: The Day/WTNH televised debate at The Garde Center for the Arts, New London. Tickets required. Foley and Malloy.
October 18, 3:30 p.m.: Connecticut Fund for the Environment debate, Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, New Haven. Foley, Malloy and Marsh.
October 19, 3 p.m.: debate at Fairfield University broadcast by WFSB, WNPR and CPTV. Foley and Malloy.
October 20, 7 p.m.: Connecticut Daily Newspaper Association/UConn debate at UConn student union, Storrs. Malloy and Marsh.
October 25, 7 p.m.: Republican-American/Torrington chamber debate, Warner Theater. Foley and Malloy.
October 26, 7 p.m.: NBC30 televised debate. Foley and Malloy.
October 29: NAACP debate, time and place TBD. Foley, Malloy and Marsh.
Candidate forums for U.S. Senate
Oct. 4, 7 p.m.: Courant/Fox61 televised debate at The Bushnell in Hartford. Tickets required. Blumenthal and McMahon.
Oct. 7, 9 a.m.: Business forum to be taped and televised by Cablevision 12 the Continental Manor in Norwalk. Reservations required. Blumenthal and McMahon.
Oct. 12, 7 p.m.: The Day/WTNH televised debate at The Garde Center for the Arts, New London. Tickets required. Blumenthal and McMahon.