It’s politics as usual in The First State as third party candidates of all stripes are shut out of the upcoming Delaware Debates on October 16 & 17. Hosted by the University of Delaware’s Center for Political Communication and Delaware First Media, the qualifications for candidates are so restrictive that they make it a foregone conclusion that only the Democratic and Republican candidates will be able to participate.

From a UD press release dated August 7, 2012, the debates are described as:

“non-partisan and open to all candidates in the Delaware races for U.S. Congress, governor and lieutenant governor who meet the nationally recognized debate inclusion criteria established by the Debate Advisory Standards Project, a joint project of the Pew Center and the Knight Center.”


How can standards that will de facto eliminate other party representation besides that of the two entrenched political parties be non-partisan? These debate qualifications require candidates to meet at least one of a long list of restrictive standards, including: “have at least 3 campaign contributions per 1,000 residents of the constituency….of $50 or more”; have received 10% or 15% (depending on the office) of the vote in the most recent election cycle;  or pay thousands of dollars for a pollster to conduct a public opinion survey for which the candidate must receive at least 10% of the vote among other criteria.

You can find more of the standards here in a post on TNJ blog, First State Politics, to which I ask, “Why isn’t this on the front page of TNJ or at least on the front page of the Delaware section? Why is this buried in TNJ blogs?”

My answer…Our elections are rigged to keep the main parties in power and to marginalize third parties and “The Press” is complicit for not challenging these debate standards.  These restrictions make it impossible for citizen candidates to get any traction. It’s all part of the self-fulfilling prophecy of why third parties aren’t successful in modern day America–no one knows about third party candidates and they can’t ever meet the requirements, so they aren’t ever allowed to participate in debates, able to get on the ballot, etc. Citizen candidates, who aren’t funded by entrenched political parties and other powerful special interest groups, deserve to be heard and we deserve the right to be informed citizens and make up our own minds about who is a viable candidate or not.

If we want things to change, then we need to stand up and demand change. To that end, I urge you to contact the following individuals to share your concerns regarding these restrictive criteria  and ask that the debate standards be reconsidered for the Delaware Debates.

Contact the following:

Write a Letter to the Editor

Write a Letter to the Editor about this issue to TNJ and ask why they aren’t treating this issue with more urgency. Consider writing to other local publications as well.

Finally, it’s important to point out, according to the most recent Delaware Elections Voter Registration Totals, voters registered with “Other” parties number almost as many as those registered as Republican and half as many as those registered as Democrats. We “Others” could be a very powerful force if we combined our energy on this issue.

 Current Month State of Delaware Elections Voter Registration Totals
 Democrats  Republicans  Others
 Statewide  294,140  179,766  147,568
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One Response to Delaware Debates Exclusionary to Green Party and Other 3rd Parties

  1. Mark Mark says:

    Major parties don’t include outsiders
    10:59 PM, Aug 16, 2012 |


    Filed Under

    Letters to the Editor
    University Of Delaware

    Regarding third party candidates being excluded from the debates at the University of Delaware, (“Independent Pires takes aim at shaking up D.C.”, Aug. 5) please allow me to share my view. Of course the machine candidates from the major parties don’t remotely want to engage outsiders in debate. The former run to maintain and consolidate power, the latter to return the power to the electorate.

    The debate would be political suicide for major party candidates. When we discuss real issues; Delaware ranked 49th in quality of life, 47th in business friendliness, 44th in sat scores, and as high as 4th in corruption there is no excuse for legislation like the Delaware Inspector General and Government Integrity Act. not to have been worked, passed, signed into law and enacted.

    Referendum has been a pipe dream for some time as has been recall and initiative. These major party candidates don’t want to talk about anything that will make their work environment hostile by bringing transparency and accountability to public process. They want business as usual.

    Douglas Beatty


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