Free and Equal: ‘California Candidate Debates Exclude Alternative Voices’

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MORAGA, Calif. – Saint Mary’s College of California hosted the first U.S. senatorial candidate debate, Wednesday, September 1, which included incumbent Democrat Barbara Boxer and Republican challenger Carly Fiorina, but excluded the remaining six alternative candidates.

In addition, a number of high-profile gubernatorial debates, which exclude all candidates except Democrat Jerry Brown and Republican rival Meg Whitman, have been scheduled throughout California. This non-inclusive debate series will kick off September 28 with a televised debate hosted at the University of California, Davis, and co-sponsored by the Sacramento Bee, to be followed by an October 2 debate at California State University, Fresno, and a Ronn Owens radio debate October 5 on KGO-810 AM. Tom Brokaw has agreed to moderate the final debate, October 12, sponsored and hosted by Dominican University of California.

“Non-inclusive debates are not a new phenomenon,” said Christina Tobin, founder and chair of The Free and Equal Elections Foundation. “However, the true purpose of candidate debates should be to provide a forum for all qualified candidates to discuss the issues and provide voters with the knowledge they need to make informed decisions at the polls.”

Brown has challenged Whitman to a number of joint town hall appearances in addition to the already confirmed debate schedule.

“Every one of these debates is hosted by a credible organization, guaranteeing a fair and open forum,” Brown said in a statement, reported on The Sacramento Bee’s Capital Alert blog. “There is no reason not to participate, no reason not to say what we really mean, and show the voters who we are.”

“Brown’s guarantee of a fair and open forum is severely flawed,” Tobin said. “The only way to make these debates truly fair and open is to include all qualified candidates. They deserve the opportunity to participate, say what they really mean and show the voters who they are as well. If Brown wants to promote fairness, he should start playing fair, himself.”

“Non-inclusive debates do not provide voters with the answers they need to make informed decisions at the polls,” Tobin said. “These faux debates only work with insider candidates and partisan media, providing little if any substantial information.”

Gubernatorial candidates, Chelene Nightingale of the Constitution Party and Laura Wells of the Green Party, along with California Peace & Freedom Party State Chair C.T. Weber, Libertarian National Chair Mark Hinkle, Green Party National Co-Chair Michael Feinstein and Constitution Party National Chair Jim Clymer, have said they agree with Free and Equal’s opposition of all non-inclusive candidate debates. “All Free and Equal debates follow a strict policy of inviting every eligible candidate,” Tobin said. “Free and Equal is calling on other debate organizers to follow our lead by doing what is right for the people, not favoring the political insiders and biased media.”

“Free & Equal will continue to shine light on this unfair and corrupt practice in addition to hosting truly open and all-inclusive debates across the country,” Tobin said. “Free and Equal is teaming up with student organizations at universities nationwide to produce the all-inclusive debates the public is crying for. The students are our next generation of leaders, and Free and Equal is thrilled to be part of their introduction to civic responsibility, in hopes of providing a much more just future for Americans across the board.”

With university and student support, Free and Equal will produce a string of all-inclusive, back-to-back gubernatorial and U.S. senatorial candidate debates beginning with debates in California, Illinois and Oklahoma, with more states signing on rapidly.

“Students for Sensible Drug Policy chapters are stepping up to the plate in several states and we are anticipating support from other groups such as Students for Liberty, Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity and student governments, among others, to join in and help,” Tobin said.

All Free and Equal debates will be streamed live on and will cover a number of important issues including economics, war, drugs, election reform and proportional representation in addition to many others.

Free & Equal has launched a petition to open all debates to include all qualified candidates and would appreciate your support of our mission by signing the petition and spreading the word.

10 thoughts on “Free and Equal: ‘California Candidate Debates Exclude Alternative Voices’

  1. Mik Robertson

    Is Free and Equal going to sponsor a debate inclusive of all candidates for the California Gubernatorial and Senatorial election?

  2. Davi Rodrigues

    Won’t matter if they do, ’cause neither brown or Whitman will come for Governor, nor will Boxer or Fiorna. They don’t consider other parties as an alternative. Apparently voters seem to feel that way here in California too.

  3. Don lake rocks

    Davi, did you see the article written about Chelene Nightingale By Arran Park> Its title” Exposing Chelene Nightingales fraud. There is another article written by the LP party of orange county titled “The case against Chelene Nightingale” looks like the word is out in the media…….

  4. Don lake rocks

    in my opinion third parties want “affirmative action” when it comes to debates…most ran without opposition and were able to just “plop” down with a ballot designation, with no vetting and no qualifications. except that their party was ballot qualified. Thats why the new law Prop 14 will eliminate “these vanity candidates that always try to raise a stink, but the only thing they really want is fringe attention.

  5. Don lake rocks

    Prop 14 passed its law…..The people have spoken…majority rules…..thats the way the ball bounces…..

  6. Mik Robertson

    I found some of the presidential, and even vice-presidential, debates in 2008 that only had alternative candidates to be very informative. In fact, they made the major party nominees look pretty poor.

    Granted, the exposure wasn’t great, but if there are no debates, then there will be no exposure at all.

  7. Cody Quirk

    Wow, you can’t even post any links about that ‘damaging evidence’ on Chelene Nightingale at all, you simply talk out of your ass.

    But then again, its funny that Mark Seidenberg has problems putting links in his posts.


  8. Robert Milnes

    Christina, yeh but, yeah but, the reactionries-dems & reps, you don’t really expect them to attend, do you?
    OH, & could you verify that you are not quite old enough to run vp on my 2012 Independent fusion ticket? I’m so disappointed.
    OH, & could say hi to Richard for me? Let me know if/when he decides PLAS is worth a try. ok? thanks.

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