Wednesday, April 01, 2009

District 4 Republicans Slam "Segregated" Debate

At last night's Action Committee for Transit/Sierra Club District 4 forum, Democratic and Republican candidates were told to debate in separate rooms before members of their respective parties. But since almost no Republicans showed up, the Republican candidates held no debate and milled around in the hallway outside the Democrats' room. Today, they are blasting ACT and the Sierra Club for "segregation."

This fellow, who is probably not a Democrat, has been showing up at the debates.

Ben Ross, President of Action Committee for Transit, explained:

The debate was organized for the benefit of the voters, not the candidates. How does a debate between candidates who aren't running against each other help voters make up their minds?

We learned the lesson of last year's presidential primary debates. Ten candidates on one stage is too many for effective exchange of views.

I'm sure that if John Edwards had been on the stage when John McCain was debating Rudy Giuliani and Mike Huckabee, there would have been some entertaining moments. But how useful would it have been for Republican voters who disagree with Mr. Edwards' premises?
We asked each of the three Republicans to comment. Here's what they said:

Andrew Padula:

I posted my ACT questionnaire, wrote a column at, and I was linked this week all over the left's blogosphere. Policy relating to Green energy initiatives was my forte' as an adviser to a national campaign. I have a stronger record of human rights, civil rights, and environmental activism than most of the Dems... They probably didn't want a real debate with facts so they celebrated April fools a day early.
Robin Ficker:

Separate but equal is inherently unequal. Segregation was practiced last night. What are the Democratic candidates afraid of? It is very difficult to believe that the Democratic candidates were not the moving force behind this exclusion. We received an email invitation a month ago to "a forum." There was no mention of any segregation. Then the afternoon before, I received a phone call saying that there would be segregation. This is very unfair to the voters of District 4 who want to make an informed choice. Act/Sierra, the Bird Society, nobody has scheduled any forum after the primary. All there was last year was a 1/2 hour on Channel 16 after the primary. There is ideological unanimity on the council now and the push is to have ideological unanimity in the campaign too. Robin Ficker, 301-919-9068. ACT/Sierra leaders are simply Democratic precinct chairmen and should be treated as such.
Lou August:

As an invited Republican Candidate to this event, a couple of phrases come to mind:

Separate but Not Equal
Forced to Ride in the Back of the Bus

There needs to be an investigation into the circumstances that led up to tonight’s “Debate.” As a Republican candidate, I received no information from the organizers in advance that the Republican and Democratic candidates would have separate debates in separate rooms. That runs contrary to every debate I’ve attended as a candidate. The Republican attendees I spoke with received no information that the parties would be separated and they wanted to see all the candidates. This was the most highly publicized debate, and to my knowledge, there is no debate scheduled for the winners of the Primary election. Even the conveners of this debate admitted that they had no plans to hold another debate with the Republican and Democratic winners of the primary election. Thus in all likelihood, this would be the attendees’ only chance to see ALL the candidates, which was the expectation of every attendee I spoke to.

As we Republican candidates were arguing the issue with the organizers to no avail, the organizers urged me to go to the back room as the Republican attendees were waiting for us. In respect to these attendees, I complied. That’s when I met the Republican attendees... all four of them! That makes three Republican candidates with four people watching them. I estimated that there were 60 Democrats watching the Democratic debate already underway. Even with a county that is as highly Democratic as ours is, those ratios just don’t hold up: 60 to 4? Who was doing the inviting? Again, there really needs to be an investigation conducted here, as the potential manipulation of the democratic process by parties posing as objective conveners must not be tolerated.

Andrew, Robin and I could not honor the event by remaining in attendance. Robin Ficker and I left together, encouraging all the Republicans that came down (and would not see us debate) to attend the widely advertised Republican-only debate scheduled for this Thursday at the Bauer Center (Bauer near Norbeck) at 7:00pm. In respect for those attendees that could not make it on Thursday, and their significant inconvenience, I invited them all to Starbucks near Leisure World where we talked politics over coffee until the Starbucks closed for the night.
We'll have full coverage of the first wave of debates next week.