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As I See It

Broadcasters Association gets it wrong on debate rules



There are ten candidates running in the democratic primary for Governor in Wisconsin. But apparently not all of them will be allowed on stage in a debate between the candidates. The Wisconsin Broadcaster’s Association says it will allow only four of the candidates to take part in their July 27th debate in Madison. The criteria for making the cut is money, and popularity. The WBA says only those candidates who have raised at least a quarter million dollars and who are rated highest in the Marquette University Law School poll will be allowed to take part. The group argues it would be too unwieldy to have ten candidates on stage at once. But we saw 10 presidential candidates on stage during the most recent presidential election. They were able to get their message across. What is magic about the number four? Why not five candidates, or better yet, all ten? And choosing the candidates based on their standing in the polls is rather arbitrary. Polling numbers can change frequently, and the latest polls show only small percentage point differences between most of the candidates. And the poll’s margin of error could further impact who the front runners really are. Doing well or at least standing out in the debate could change those poll numbers, and help fundraising efforts. In Minnesota, they didn’t want Jesse Ventura to take part in the debates because he wasn’t considered a serious candidate. He ended up winning the Governor’s race. The WBA should allow all 10 candidates to take part in the debate, without regard to their fundraising ability or standing in the polls.

Scott Robert Shaw serves as WIZM Program Director and News Director, and delivers the morning news on WKTY, Z-93 and 95.7 The Rock. Scott has been at Mid-West Family La Crosse since 1989, and authors Wisconsin's only daily radio editorial, "As I See It" heard on WIZM each weekday morning and afternoon.

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