Adrian Wyllie, Libertarian candidate for governor, says he’ll crash any candidate forum or debate that doesn’t include him and force organizers to arrest him if necessary, including the one by the Florida Press Association starting Thursday.
Wyllie accused the Press Association and Florida Society of Newspaper Editors of “intentionally seeking to exclude a viable third-party candidate,” saying they either hoped to appease “major advertisers” -- meaning the major-party candidates -- or “maintain the status quo.”
That’s ridiculous, said Dean Ridings, CEO of the Florida Press Association, noting that political campaigns do almost no advertising in newspapers, and that a candidate who can’t meet the criteria set by the press groups has little if any chance of getting elected.
Such arguments have become common in election years between minor party candidates, who say they can’t get elected unless they get more attention, and debate sponsors and news organizations, who say they have to devote scarce time to candidates with a chance of actually winning.
The FPA/FSNE plan to have the two leading Democrats, Charlie Crist and Nan Rich, along with Republican Gov. Rick Scott, appear at their convention in Miami Thursday and Friday.
The candidates will address the group separately and take questions.
To be included, a candidate must have raised at least $250,000 by May 1, or reach 12 percent support, including an error margin of up to 4 percent, in an independent poll by June 10.
Wyllie received 5 percent favorability ratings in one of the few published, independent polls to include him, done by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research, and had raised only about $33,000 by the end of June.
Wyllie has pointed to an August, 2013 StPetePolls survey in which he registered 8.7 percent with a 1.8-point error margin, saying it means he’ll have “a major impact on the election” even if he doesn’t win. But that poll also fails to meet the criteria.
“I’d love to include him – it would make for an interesting debate.” Ridings said. “But he just didn’t make the numbers.”
He noted that there are 18 candidates for governor, nine of them write-ins, and the organization’s 1 1/2-day convention, with many other activities planned, won’t include time for all the candidates.
Wyllie wasn’t mollified by that.
“We’re not going to let it happen,” he said of the exclusion.”We will do everything in our power to make sure I’m included in any forum or debate, even if that means attending any forum in which I’m not invited, and walking onto the stage.”