Tom Foley and Dannel P. Malloy at a forum in 2010. CT MIRROR

Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and his Republican challenger, Tom Foley, will meet tonight at 7 in a debate televised live on WFSB from the University of St. Joseph in West Hartford. The petitioning candidate, Joe Visconti, was not invited.

“We’re protesting outside,” said Visconti, a former Republican councilman from West Hartford.

The debate is the second of seven in the general-election campaign and the first since Malloy and Foley faced each other Aug. 27 at the Norwich Free Academy in a forum sponsored by The Bulletin. Visconti, who has qualified for the ballot, said he hopes to participate in at least three.

The Coming Debates
Three’s a crowd: Joe Visconti has a firm invitation to only one debate with Dannel P. Malloy and Tom Foley, a forum in New London on Oct. 16.
When Where Host
7 p.m., Sept. 30 University of St. Joseph, West Hartford WFSB
7 p.m., Oct. 2 University of Connecticut, Storrs Hartford Courant/FoxCT
4 p.m., Oct. 9 Hartford Hilton Connecticut Broadcasters Association
7 p.m., Oct. 16 Garde Arts Center, New London The Day/CPTV
7 p.m., Oct. 23 NBC30 studios, West Hartford NBC30
8 a.m., Nov. 2 WTNH studios, New Haven WTNH

Visconti said WFSB never stated its criteria for inclusion, while The Hartford Courant and FoxCT told him he needed to hit 10 percent in a poll to be included in their debate Thursday at the University of Connecticut. Visconti was supported by seven percent of voters in a recent Quinnipiac University poll.

WFSB told The Mirror that its criteria was 10 percent in a poll.

NBC30 told him its polling threshold was five percent, so Visconti expects to be included in its Oct. 23 debate, unless he slips below that mark in a fresh poll, he said. He is awaiting word on the requirements for inclusion at debates sponsored by the Connecticut Broadcasters Association and WTNH.

Visconti, whose key issues have been his opposition to gun control and the Common Core curriculum standards, qualified for the ballot on Aug. 20 by collecting the signatures of at least 7,500 registered voters.

Whom to include often is a nettlesome question for debate organizers, especially when the field grows large.

In 2006, five candidates qualified for the ballot in the U.S. Senate race: Democrat Ned Lamont, Republican Alan Schlesinger, Ralph Ferrucci of the Green Party,  Timothy Knibbs of the Concerned Citizens and the incumbent, Joseph I. Lieberman, who continued as a petitioning candidate after losing the Democratic primary.

Using a five-percent threshold, the Republican nominee would not have been invited to the first debate. Schlesinger was at 4 percent.

Ferrucci and Knibbs participated in one of the four debates. Lieberman boycotted the final one, leaving the stage to Lamont and Schlesinger.

The first Malloy-Foley debate of 2014 and two debates from their 2010 race can be viewed in full on C-Span’s web site.

Three of the seven debates were scheduled for venues in the 1st Congressional District, where two are to be held in West Hartford and one in Hartford. Three were scheduled in the 2nd District communities of Norwich, New London and Storrs.

The remainder is in New Haven, the heart of the 3rd Congressional District. No debates are scheduled for the 4th District of Fairfield County or the 5th District of western Connecticut.

All debates can be viewed live on television.  The in-studio debates will have no live audience, and access to the remaining four are limited to ticket holders or, in the case of the broadcasters’ association, invited guest.

Mark is the Capitol Bureau Chief and a co-founder of CT Mirror. He is a frequent contributor to WNPR, a former state politics writer for The Hartford Courant and Journal Inquirer, and contributor for The New York Times.

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