Thursday, October 19, 2006

Faxploitation: Green Flogs Chron Over Today's Debate

By Michael Mechanic
Thu, Oct 19, 2006 at 3:22 PM

    "URGENT NEWS ADVISORY "Tuesday October 17, 2006 "SAN FRANCISCO - Green Party Secretary of State candidate Dr. Forrest Hill charged today that the San Francisco Chronicle may have excluded him from a televised debate on Wednesday either because the paper "does not believe in democracy (or) because I am the only openly gay candidate ruining for statewide office."

Did he say "ruining?" Yes, he did. But the good doctor - MIT doctorate, actually - is merely running for office, as demonstrated in this unintentionally hilarious ad. So then, is the editorial board of The Chronicle, the first paper in the United States to cover the AIDS epidemic, really antigay? No, it isn't. And does it believe in democracy? Every last board member would undoubtedly say it does. Why, then, did the editorial board exclude the Greens and other marginal parties from today's 1 p.m. proceedings? For that matter, why did it nix third parties in its whole series of debates, which are being webcast live on CBS5.com? The Chron responds after the jump. We asked Chronicle editorial page editor John Diaz, who heads the editorial board, why third parties were excluded, when they would likely have made the debates more interesting. This was his response:

    There are six certified candidates for secretary of state. Two of them -- Republican incumbent Bruce McPherson and Democrat Debra Bowen - have a plausible chance of winning. All indications are that this is an extremely close race and the two major-party candidates have two distinctly different visions about the role of secretary of state. This is their first -- and only scheduled -- debate of the campaign. So thequestion comes down to whether Californians would be better served by a more focused and extensive comparison of the two major-party candidates -- one of whom will be secretary of state for the next four years -- or a forum that also included the Green, Libertarian, American Independent and Peace and Freedom party candidates. Our judgment is that Californians need this chance to directly compare Bowen and McPherson.

Fair enough, John. Or perhaps not fair, if you're talking to the excluded parties. To play devil's advocate, though, third-party candidates do bring ideas to the table that the big guys won't, due to political expediency. The Dems can't afford to offend the unions, for instance, and the GOP may kowtow to the business community. Issues that may be truly important to voters simply go unmentioned in these debates because the major candidates are beholden to their institutional supporters.

He's right, though, that none of the third parties have a chance in hell. We'll leave you now with today's voter registration numbers for the East Bay, where you might expect Greens to perform their best.

Voter Registration as of Oct. 18, 2006 (percentages rounded)

Alameda County Total: 671,252 Democratic: 371,076 (55%) Decline to State 145,239 (22%) Republican: 118,333 (18%) Green: 12,591 (2%) American Independent: 10,725 (2%) Libertarian: 2,891 (<1%) Peace and Freedom: 2,922 (<1%) Natural Law: 1,143 (<1%) Misc. Parties: 6,332 (<1%)

Contra Costa County (percentages rounded) Total: 486,029 Democrat: 233,852 (48%) Republican: 144,091 (30%) Decline to State: 87,650 (18%) American Independent: 9,156 (2%) Green: 4,217 (<1%) Misc. Parties: 3,146 (<1%) Libertarian: 2,212 (<1%) Peace and Freedom: 1,207 (<1%) Natural Law: 498 (<1%)

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