Charlie Dent, the moderate Republican incumbent in Pennsylvania’s 15th District, is pushing for the exclusion of Independent candidate Jake Towne from all debates.
“We don’t think that John Callahan should be afforded the opportunity to hide behind Jake Towne’s presence at any potential debate,” said Shawn Millan, Dent’s campaign manager. “Callahan’s desire to have Towne at debates only indicates his unease over facing Rep. Dent head-on.”
Dent’s campaign stopped short of saying Towne’s participation would be a deal-breaker. No debates have been finalized, though Dent and Callahan have been culling through invites from several organizations.
Towne said two organizations — The Morning Call and the local tea party group — have indicated they want him to participate in the forums they’re planning. Towne said he has exceeded the number of signatures required to file his nominating petition and plans to submit them before the Aug. 2 deadline.
The article also takes a close look at Towne’s odds on the ballot.
Because of the popularity of the tea party movement, Borick said some pols believe a third-party candidate will draw more votes than usual in November’s election for both houses of Congress. Though the tea party is not a political party in its own right, many supporters of the conservative group are seeking office and riding the momentum of the movement.In a poll conducted in April by Muhlenberg College for The Morning Call, Dent led Callahan 38 percent to 27 percent, and Towne took 4 percent, while one in three voters was undecided. Take out Towne, and Dent led Callahan 43 percent to 31 percent.
G. Terry Madonna, a political science professor at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, said Towne’s impact would be “marginal” if his numbers don’t rise. Madonna said if Towne gets near 15 percent, he could affect the outcome, and the fact Dent doesn’t want Towne at the debates shows the incumbent isn’t taking any chances…
News stories about keeping Towne out of a debate give him publicity and can draw more attention than the debate itself, Borick said.
“It always looks like a David and Goliath matchup when a congressman doesn’t want to debate a third-party candidate,” Borick said. “No matter how they frame it, it’s never good PR for the one on top and it’s great PR for the one on the bottom.”