HoT Readers: TX Needs Your Help

Televised Gubernatorial Debate Coming In October, and the Libertarian Party candidate may be excluded. KERA, the public station here, is undecided about inviting James Werner to participate in the scheduled debate. The article is pretty short so I will post a quick copy here:

A televised debate among candidates for Texas governor is set for 8 p.m. on October 5 in Dallas.

KERA public television spokesman Steven Anderson says the major gubernatorial candidates have been notified and he expects all will participate.

Aides say Democrat Chris Bell and independent candidates Kinky Friedman and Carole Keeton Strayhorn will take part. A spokesman for Republican Gov. Rick Perry says his campaign hasn’t decided yet on whether he’ll participate.

Anderson says organizers will use an established debate criteria to assess the Libertarian candidate’s campaign to determine if James Werner will be invited.

James Werner is certainly qualified for the position of governor. And, even if he weren’t, he is on the ballot and worthy of participation. I am begging our readers, on my knees if necessary, to email Mr. Anderson. I don’t know if he will listen, but if he does, we will be one step closer to a fair fight.

I promise to make it up to you!!!

Update: Deived pointed out the comments section on the KERA site. Click here to use their online form.

Update: There was a server issue and Mr. Werner’s site went down. It has been corrected. Visit for more info.

  1. “established debate criteria”??? Being on the ballot is not enough? Four candidates is just too much choice for people, unless of course you are judging American Idol or Miss America.

  2. I emailed Mr. Anderson. In short,

    Email Mr. Werner. Ask him for his CV. Then, please, invite him to the debate. What do you have to lose? If he is the joke KERA seems to think he is, he will hang himself. If not, he will provide Texas voters with real choice. Either way, KERA shines

  3. I emailed…

    If the Gubernatorial Debate is going to claim to be a “fair” debate, all candidates should be included. James Werner needs to be invited if KERA wants to give the people of Texas an honest representation of their choices for governor, someone who will be making decisions over them.

    I also sent it on the ‘contact us’ page on

  4. “Dear Sir/Madam,
    I was dismayed to hear that you will be rejecting the libertarian candidate James Werner, from your forthcoming debate. Please rectify this situation, in the spirit of the democratic process and the foundation of free speech this great country was built on.

    Thankyou in advance,
    -Mr. Stephen A. Braun”


  5. Thanks for the alert, Michelle. I just sent an email message to Mr. Anderson.

  6. There are two independents in the race and they have to use some sort of “debate criteria” to determine whether they will allow the Libertarian to participate?? What a bunch of crap!

  7. A reply!

    “Thanks for writing. If it wasn’t clear from the story you read, the debate sponsors are currently assessing the Libertarian candidate’s campaign by applying our debate participation policy. We probably won’t know for a couple of weeks whether the Libertarian qualifies or not to be a participant.

    Steve Anderson, PR Manager


  8. My submission:

    “Regarding your scheduled gubernatorial debate, I see no good reason for deliberating as to whether Libertarian candidate James Werner should be invited to participate. As you surely know, the state already uses a strict process for vetting candidates and Mr. Werner has earned his spot on the ballot. Since there are only five candidates on the ballot, what is to be gained by reducing the number of participants from 5 to 4, or 4 to 3 if Gov. Perry chooses not to attend? The viewers deserve the opportunity to evaluate ALL of the candidates for themselves so they can make an informed choice come Election Day.”

    Hopefully enough of these kinds of responses will make them realize how senseless it is to arbitrarily restrict one of the candidates from participating.

  9. What IS the “debate participation policy”???? Perhaps if we knew what the hoops were, we could jump through them.

  10. I got the same canned response:
    Thanks for writing. If it wasn’t clear from the story you read, the debate sponsors are currently assessing the Libertarian candidate’s campaign by applying our debate participation policy. We probably won’t know for a couple of weeks whether the Libertarian qualifies or not to be a participant.
    Steve Anderson, PR Manager

  11. I wrote back:
    The story was quite clear. I had hoped to encourage you to invite the candidate. I participated in the ballot access drive in 2004. I know how tough it is to obtain ballot access for independent and third party candidates. Media outlets perpetuate the injustice by excluding candidates from debates. KERA is a public network. As such, KERA should set an example for corporately owned networks. If Mr. Werner is excluded- for any reason- KERA would be doing an injustice to its viewers.

    I don’t know what your qualification prerequisites are, but I can’t imagine that a highly educated candidate representing the third largest political party in the country wouldn’t “qualify” as a worthy debate opponent.

  12. That’s exactly why you won’t be hearing what the hoops are. This is a common practice. When we jump through the hoops, they change the rules and add new hoops to jump through, with each hoop being progressively higher.

  13. I sent: (through their web form)

    This is a somewhat humble request to include James Werner, the Libertarian Party gubernatorial candidate, in the upcoming televised debate. Ballot access in Texas is no easy thing. Ask Ms. Strayhorn and Mr. Friedman. Just getting on the ballot means that candidate is serious and reasonably qualified. Why would anyone intentionally exclude a legally-qualified candidate? It’s lazy journalism, especially for a public station which is supposed to bring forth all viewpoints without regard to corporate special interests.
    I urge you to invite Mr. Werner.


    Sam Smith

  14. As a contributor to PBS, I advised that I would redirect my contributions to a more worthy charity if Mr. Werner were excluded. I CC’d to my local PBS, who is the recipient of both my personal and corporate donations, and advised them that I would be canceling my yearly gift if their “affiliate” failed to make the right decision.

  15. My two cents into their Web form:

    Regarding the debate I read this

    “Anderson says organizers will use an established debate criteria to assess the Libertarian candidate’s campaign to determine if James Werner will be invited.”

    What does that mean and why should Werner be excluded? The third party candidates are almost always excluded from debates in this country and this only verifies to me that the whole political system is rigged. I supposed you’d exclude Friedman too but that would make it too obvious considering the publicity he has received.

    So go ahead and exclude Werner and verify my cynisism. And you wonder why people don’t bother to vote.

  16. If the Werner campaign is reading this, here are some suggestions if he is excluded:

    1) determine where the debate will be held. If a non-profit, such as a 501(c) is hosting it, then he has grounds for filing an injunction on grounds that their organization is defying the law by being partisan in exluding any candidate.

    2) get a list of sponsors of the debate and have supporters hammer them with phone calls and emails of dissatisfaction. Publish this list for all to see who is backing a sham of a debate.

    3) call the other campaigns and record them saying that they have no problem with Werner being at the debate. Even if they are against it strategically, only an idiot campaign manager would admit this publicly as it is grounds for admitting they are afraid to debate Werner.

    PS- we’re going through the same deal here in Ohio, so I can empathize. Sadly I think TX is ripe for an independent/third party campaign to win this year, but it probably isn’t going to be Werner… sorry :(

  17. “KERA is a public network. As such, KERA should set an example for corporately owned networks.”

    Michelle, I like that angle.

    Anyway, based upon their form-letter response, I just submitted the following on KERA’s contact form:

    KERA PR Manager Steve Anderson has indicated that your station is considering excluding Libertarian candidate James Werner from the gubernatorial debate “by applying our debate participation policy”.

    What is your debate participation policy? When was your debate participation policy formulated? Is that policy in writing and available for public review and scrutiny?

  18. Sadly I think TX is ripe for an independent/third party campaign to win this year, but it probably isn’t going to be Werner”¦ sorry :(

    He is not favored to win, but the debate has the potential to help other state candidates by getting the message out.

  19. Mike — not to mention overall electability of LP’ers in general, in the long haul.

  20. Mike Nelson: Sorry if I sounded harsh about it. My point is that even if a candidate doesn’t seem to have a chance at winning, I don’t think they ought to be excluded on those grounds alone.

    In fact as most polls show, people prefer more candidates at the debates precisely because they offer more viewpoints on issues and challenge the rhetoric of the bigger campaigns.

    So yeah, let Werner debate.

  21. Looks as if they decided candidates polling below 6% get locked out. He conspicuously declined to comment on when this policy was formulated. My suspicion is they hastily put a newly-formed policy in place and posted it just this afternoon because of all the emails they were getting.

    Mr. Engstrom,

    Our criteria for candidate participation in the KERA-sponsored debates are now posted online at and

    Thank again for your inquiry and please, stay tuned.

    Steve Anderson, PR Manager

    —–Original Message—–
    From: Jon Engstrom
    Sent: Thursday, July 27, 2006 1:40 PM
    To: Steve Anderson
    Subject: Re: Your debate participation policy

    Regarding “applying your debate participation policy”: What is your debate participation policy? When was your debate participation policy formulated? Is that policy in writing and available for public review and scrutiny?

  22. Oops. Uhh… Looks like we got the same email Michelle, probably one right after the other.
    Does it strike you the same way it does me that perhaps they delayed replying to our earlier emails about the policy until after they’d come up with the policy and got it posted?

  23. My newest reply:

    Mr. Anderson,

    Thank you for your reply. Our candidate has met the first two qualifications. The third is a concern. I show that Mr. Werner has met the third in the following polls:

    Because your site is unclear about what is acceptable as an established, non-partisan poll, I am requesting examples of such. From where I sit, Mr. Werner appears to be newsworthy.

    Thank you so much for your attention to this matter.

    Michelle Shinghal

  24. I sent:
    “Gubernatorial Debate Warning: If you include the Libertarian candidate in the debate, your Democrat and Republican candidates will pull out of it. Be prepared to document their excuses, as they will probably try to deny that it has anything to do with the Libertarian in public, but they may be more forthcoming in private.

    Do not submit to their coersion. They need you more than you need them. I imagine that if you handle it right, you can get nationwide kudos from the public you serve. You need them more than you need the establishment parties.”

    Could have been clearer about “they” but I’m sure they (the station) get the idea.

  25. The policy only says “established and non-partisan” polls as of now. I suspect in their haste to get it posted, they goofed. I guess next they’ll say those polls you linked to are unscientific, and they’ll have to update their debate criteria to specify that only “established, non-partisan and scientific” polls are what they actually consider now.

    Here’s a possible situation: What if none of the established, non-partisan, scientific polls include Mr. Werner. Is KERA going to then say, well, he wasn’t included, so we’ll just assume his support is 0%? I’d think that, technically speaking, if there’s no polling polling evidence that they’d find acceptable to consider regarding Mr. Werner, then they can’t say he doesn’t pass the threshold. How are they supposed to know if he’s above or below 6% if the polls they’re looking at don’t include Mr. Werner.

    Since they say their commitment is “to help viewers and listeners make informed decisions” the default decision should be for inclusion.

  26. The posted links were not meant to be scientific- they are all I happen to have right now. I wanted to document newsworthy. I am sure that your prediction will come to fruition in 24 hours though.

  27. What I sent them via their Web form. I hope they read it.

    Two corrupt political parties have a stranglehold on power and they are bankrupting this country. By excluding established third party candidates in debates you are using our tax dollars to ensure that this does not change. You’re doing a hell of a job.

  28. Werner has raised $1400 and spent $70 as of his last filing report. He’s not getting into the debates since without significant fundraising (and spending), he’s just another Libertarian paper candidate. Frankly, our candidates need to fundraise, and they need to spend. Werner’s done neither and intends to do neither. Again, another paper candidate. The LP needs to stop asking people to be paper candidates – then we’ll start getting into the debates.

  29. Hello, I’m writing to encourage that you include Libertarian Candidate James Werner in the upcoming televised debates. To disclude any qualified candidate from accessing the American public is contrary to the spirit of journalistic integrity. I know of several people who would not be willing to continue donating to a group of journalists that prove themselves partial by omitting important information from their coverage.

    -Michael Bilderback

  30. Zander, are you volunteering to run for Texas governor with an active, fundraising campaign? If so, I wish you had filed an application last December.

    Perhaps you mean that you intend to run an active, fundraising campaign in 2010.

    I hope you’re not just complaining, while being unwilling to do anything yourself.

  31. Judging someone by how much revenue they can amass bothers me. I find that the less $$ someone raises the less corrupt they are as a politician/candidate.

    I personally prefer someone with less funds because they won’t have big companies and personal interests in their agenda to “pay back” or “work for” once they hit office.

    This does not mean that I look down on libertarian candidates that are able to raise funds – I do know that libertarians receive their donations from working individuals, the people that they would represent and work for if they should win.

    If someone runs for an office and is active in their campaign, but doesn’t rake in much cash – that may tip you off to the fact that they are honest and answer to no special interest.

    And I believe no “paybacks” to special interests, would be a BEAUTIFUL thing.

  32. Elle — I for one appreciate your sentiment here, and can agree.

    But one has to ask themselves, just how seriously is a candidate taking their campaign if they’ve spent a whopping total of $70.00 with less than four months left ’till E-day? On a *statewide* campaign which will *REQUIRE* cross-partisan voting to be elected?

    At the very least, all $1400.00 should be allotted towards publicity of some sort.

    There’s a matter of scalability here. It does us absolutely no good if we restrict our spending on political elections if we restrict it to the point where there’s no chance of election. That’s a ‘paper candidate’ and it’s part of what hurts our chances of elected (or being taken seriously).

    This however is simple bickering…

    Needless to say, we all wish things were better.

  33. I sent my letter. KERA is my local station. Judging from my previous experience with the station, I would not have expected them to act like every other media publication in administering this debate. As I pay for the station via my own local taxes and as my family has given the station money during pledge drives in the past, I feel like I should damn well be represented and I would support legal action against KERA while encouraging everyone I know to cancel their membership with the station if they refuse to allow James into the debate. What have they got to gain from excluding him? He brings a point of view different from the liberal Chris Bell, the neocon Rick Perry, the authoritarian grandma Carole Keaton Strayhorn or populist Kinky Friedman.

    Steven has good ideas, and I agree completely. I’ll get on to hammering the other campaigns for statements. I also agree with IanC – spend the money now in ways that are revenue generating in the long term.

    AGGGH!! Authoritarian grandmas!

  34. Paper candidates are less than ideal, of course, but running a full slate (even if some are not serious threats) lends the party credibility, and gains attention. It also generates more enthusiasm within the party.

  35. Ian, I think the best campaign has a “happy medium”. There are plenty of fairs that cater to several interest groups – all one would need is the ability to speak with the public cordially (like Badnarik) and distribute literature.

    I love to see libertarian adds in local papers, yard signs and bumper stickers – I’ve seen a few where I live and it really turns a bad day into a good one – to know that someone, somewhere close by is a disciple of liberty.

    But the unavoidable fact is libertarians will NEVER have the money for conventions,publicity and promotion like the D’s & R’s do — this is namely due to our PRINCIPLES. We do not accept tax dollars to fund our organization – we do not get corporate handouts/support – because we do what we believe is just and right.

    The day the LP trades principle for $$$ – is the day that I get off the bandwagon completely.

    But I see your point- and it is a good one, Ian.

  36. There was a pretty good story about Werner in the Dallas Morning News today on page 4! Other than one political science professor saying “minor parties can never win because the electorate associates minor with loser” the article was pretty favorably written, presenting Werner as a normal guy trying to bring some political change.