News Local/State

Illinois Third Party Candidates Not Included In Upcoming Gov. Debate

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The next debate for Illinois nominees for governor is this Wednesday in Chicago. But two candidates are being left out this time around.

At an NBC Chicago round-table last month, Republican Governor Bruce Rauner sparred with state Senator Sam McCann, who is running under the banner of the Conservative party. That's something that won't be happening at the forthcoming debate, sponsored by the League of Women Voters, since McCann and Grayson "Kash" Jackson, the Libertarian nominee, did not meet the criteria to attend.

"There's only four people running for governor - there's four people on the ballot - why would we exclude anyone from that debate stage," McCann rhetorically asked NPR Illinois during an interview, set to publish later this week. "I think most of us are bumfuzzled as to why the League of Women Voters, who claim to stand for access and 'vote your values and vote your principles,' why they would introduce something like this 10% threshold when there's only four people running for governor," said McCann.

McCann referenced The League of Women Voters' criteria on how to decide whether or not candidates are qualified to be on the debate stage.

In an email from League of Women Voters, a representative told NPR Illinois that all candidates were invited to the Oct. 3rd debate hosted by them and Univision Chicago and ABC7. That invitation went out on of Sept. 5th. It was noted however that each nominee would have to, among other criteria: "Demonstrate that there is voter interest and support of their candidacy as evidenced by 10% of support in one or more statewide non partisan public opinion polls conducted not more than 30 days prior to the debate."

The League of Women Voters then referenced a poll from Sept. 13th, released by Research America on behalf of the Illinois Broadcasters Association. In that poll, the following was found:

Democrat JB Pritzker had 44% support 
Republican Bruce Rauner had 27.1 %
Conservative Party candidate Sam McCann had 6.4 %
Libertarian Kash Jackson got 4.3 %

Over 20% of responders indicated they are not decided or will choose "none." In a race that's anticipated to cost some $300 million and be the most expensive statewide race in history, McCann and Jackson told NPR Illinois they especially need a chance to get out in front of voters via debates, as they can't fund advertisements nearly as much as the major-party candidates.