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PA-15: Towne Campaign Drops Controversial Band, Calls Mount for Inclusive Debates

In Pennsylvania’s 15th CD, independent libertarian candidate Jake Towne has dissociated himself from controversial local band Poker Face.  For background, see here and here.  Local paper the Morning Call reports:

Towne, an independent running for the 15th District seat, decided his benefit concert on Friday should not include the controversial band Poker Face, denounced by the Anti-Defamation League for making anti-Semitic comments.

Republican incumbent Charlie Dent over the weekend used the ADL’s criticism to bolster his position that Towne, who pols say could appeal to some of the congressman’s supporters, doesn’t belong in debates this fall.

Towne announced he would not host Poker Face after the local tea party group, which has members who support him, issued a statement condemning the Allentown band.

Towne said he reviewed some of the comments the band has posted on its website, such as referring to the Holocaust as the Holohaux, but he doesn’t think the band hates people just because they are Jewish.

In an opinion piece for the same news outlet, commentator Bill White writes:

When it comes to actual elections, third party candidates are seen as spoilers, not visionaries. How do you think most Democrats feel about Ralph Nader? He’s not the fearless consumer advocate anymore. He’s the SOB who betrayed his liberal roots, claimed Democrats and Republicans are equally corrupt and helped get George W. Bush elected.

Our country, and certainly our state, are all about protecting the interests of the two established parties. Third-party candidates in Pennsylvania are confronted with draconian ballot access requirements dreamed up by Republicans and Democrats to keep them out of their elections. Even if you disregard the financial challenges for all but the wealthiest third-party candidates, it’s a terribly stacked deck. . . .

Of course Towne was dumb to book Poker Face, which he finally figured out Wednesday by canceling their appearance. His opponents can beat him over the head with it, if they feel it’s worth the effort. But he said nothing to indicate he’s anti-Semitic, except by this extremely loose association.

This is a guy who has been running since last year, and he’s serious about it. Not only has he used Facebook and his website to spread his name and opinions, but he also has used yard signs and town meetings to try to overcome his name-recognition disadvantage. He almost certainly will be on the ballot, and he deserves to be in any debates. To suggest he should be excluded is antidemocratic, no matter how you couch it.

Nader was right about neither major party offering us a lot of great choices in their candidates or their platforms. We should be encouraging third parties to offer us fresh ideas, not shooing them away like bag ladies at the debutante ball.

So while Dent’s behavior is very much in the mainstream of what we’ve come to expect from the political establishment, I fervently hope that any organization sponsoring a debate this fall will make it clear that every candidate on the ballot will be welcome to participate.


  1. Aaron Aaron July 30, 2010

    Thank you for dropping them Mr. Towne!!

  2. Andy Andy July 30, 2010

    “Poker Face actually released a statement themselves agreeing with Towne’s move :”

    Well, I still disagree with it. I wish Jake Towne well though. It sure would be nice to see Poker Face playing at his victory party.

  3. d.eris d.eris July 29, 2010

    “This is complete bullshit. There’s no way I would have dropped Poker Face if it was me.”

    Poker Face actually released a statement themselves agreeing with Towne’s move :

    ““In order to avoid distraction from Charlie Dent’s gross incompetence and performance as the people’s employee and undemocratic whining to avoid debating independent Jake Towne,” the statement said, “Poker Face and Towne for Congress have jointly decided to cancel Poker Face’s performance at this Friday’s Freedom Concert.””

  4. Andy Andy July 29, 2010

    This is complete bullshit. There’s no way I would have dropped Poker Face if it was me. These charges were absurd and this was nothing more than a “politically correct” witch hunt.

  5. Nate Nate July 29, 2010

    Good for Bill White and the Morning Call.

    And while the members of Poker Face may or may not be racist, I think it was a smart move to drop them. No point in fighting tons of battles at once, he has the right to invite or disinvite whoever he chooses and they seem to be at the least more of a nuisance than a help.

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