Thursday, June 12, 2008

I'm asking for help from Libertarians and Delaware Bloggers. . . .

I know that we have lots of political differences, but the one thing that has always tied the Delaware blogosphere together is a commitment to open government and transparent process.

Part of that is the commitment to letting all legitimate voices be heard no matter how much we may disagree with them.

Currently, in North Carolina, there is a situation that needs our attention, and--if you're willing--our voices.

North Carolina has some of the most restrictive ballot access rules in the nation. Despite that fact, the Libertarian Party of North Carolina this year raised over $200,000 and did the legwork to collect 108,000 signatures to get the party, and gubernatorial candidate Michael Munger on the statewide ballot for the first time in history.

Michael you have all met through my previous posts, if you are a regular reader. He is the Chair of the Political Science Department at Duke University, who recently gave the keynote address at the Libertarian National Convention. He is a thoughtful, well-grounded man with an incredible sense of humor, and about as far from a whacko third-party candidate as you can get. He is currently polling around 4% or more in NC, and his paving the way for Libertarian Presidential candidate Bob Barr is probably the main reason NC is in play in the general election.

The North Carolina Bar Association is sponsoring five gubernatorial debates this fall, and they have not extended an invitation to Mike.

There are only three candidates certified to be on the ballot; they have ignored one of them.

As a Libertarian I understand that they have the right to do as they damn well please, but we also have the right--even the ethical obligation--to let them know this is a baaaad idea.

I am sending the following email to the NC Bar Association:

To whom it may concern:

The decision by the NC Bar Association not to invite Dr. Michael Munger, the Libertarian candidate for Governor, to participate in your upcoming series of debates is both unfortunate and disturbing. Dr. Munger and the Libertarian Party of North Carolina have met exactly the same requirements for placement on the statewide ballot as Ms. Perdue or Mr. McCrory.

It is generally accepted that sponsoring candidate debates is a politically neutral decision; that is, you are providing an open forum for public information and not choosing a side or endorsing a candidate.

By choosing to exclude a legitimate, qualified candidate, you are limiting the access of North Carolina voters to the views and policy positions of one candidate and one party. That is not a politically neutral position; it is the position of an institution demonstrating a commitment to partisan politics and the limitation of the voter's choices by stifling alternative voices.

I urge you, in the name of fair play, open electoral process, and transparency, to invite all three ballot-qualified candidates to your debates.

Invite Dr. Michael Munger to the debates.


Steven H. Newton, PhD
Professor of History and Political Science
Delaware State University

If you are willing to join me and send your own email to the NC Bar Association, here are what appear to be the relevant addresses (and you can find the web page here):

Dept. Web Site:

Allan Head
Executive Director

David Bohm
Assistant Executive Director

Kim Wallner
Assistant to the Assistant Executive Director

Kaye Barbour
NCBA Administrative Assistant & Statewide BarCARES Coordinator

Kim Vaughan
Executive Assistant

Dept. E-mail:
Dept. Web Site:

Russell Rawlings
Director of Communications

Anne Strickland
Assistant Director of Communications

Linda Bridges
Assistant to the Director of Communications

Puckette McDonald
Desktop Publisher

This is an election year that promises to be like no other in a long time; please help me help Michael Munger insure that it isn't one that closes down the process to alternative voices.

If you do write an email, I'm sure Michael would appreciate it if you left a note to that effect either in the comments section here or at his campaign blog.


Brian said...

Message Sent. Viva la Revolucion!

No way we are becoming like Central Africa. If we decide to go down that road, I have my raft and can go refugee.

Delaware Watch said...

Dear Persons:

I am not a member of the Libertarian Party, but I am shocked to learn that you have excluded Dr. Michael Munger, the Libertarian candidate for Governor, from participating in your upcoming series of debates. Why? What could possibly justify such a measure?

Your decision to exclude Dr. Munger is all the more inexplicable given North Carolina's notorious restrictive requirements for candidates to gain ballot access. The usual defense for such restrictive requirements is they serve as a vetting process to ensure that serious candidates make it onto the ballot. Well, then, why hasn't Dr. Munger been invited to your debate? Isn't Dr. Munger vetted by the very laws the North Carolina Bar Association is committed to uphold?
Most importantly, don't the people of North Carolina deserve to hear from all the candidates your state has deemed as bone fide? You certainly have the right to exclude Dr. Munger from your debates, but that is hardly the point. As an organization dedicated to the well being of North Carolina, the question is about what the people of your state deserve. The race is hardly rife with a confusing array of options and the people of your state are perfectly capable of grasping the significance of the race with addition of one more candidate in the race. I believe it is self evident they deserve to hear from all the bone fide candidates in the race.

Please include Dr. Michael Munger in your upcoming gubernatorial debates. Thank you.


Dana Garrett, MA
Wilmington DE

Steve Newton said...

Thanks Brian and Dana

I knew from previous comments when I wrote this that it would outrage your sense of fair play and open electoral process; glad to see I was right

Shirley Vandever said...

I sent my e-mail about 10 minutes ago:

To whom it may concern:

It is my understanding that the Libertarian candidate for governor, Mike Munger, has not been invited to participate in a series of scheduled debates.

Mr. Munger and his supporters have followed all of the rules and met all of the requirements to be included on the ballot. I find it baffling that he would not also be able to participate in the debates that represent the direction of North Carolina’s future.

I am not a registered Libertarian and I do not live in North Carolina, therefore I have no immediate stake in this issue.

I do, however, have a stake as a citizen and find this oversight to be incredible at best, malicious at worst. That a legitimate candidate would be denied the right to present his position on the issues is an affront to the very ideals that this country was founded on.

I consider this to be a breach of the public trust, and urge that Mr. Munger be allowed to participate.

Hube said...

Before I send an e-mail, Munger wasn't a member of that notorious "Group of 88," was he?

Steve Newton said...

No, he wasn't.

Brian Shields said...

I tried to go a different direction.

To whom it may concern,

I am looking forward to the upcoming debate that will be hosted by your Association, but I have heard that one of the candidates, Dr. Munger, has not been invited to participate. Although I am sure that it is just an over site, I would like to strongly recommend that he be invited in the debate. For one reason, he is a Libertarian, and he will add a third point of view that is rarely heard within the Democratic and Republican parties. Another reason is with the growing level of discontent within the population towards their elected officials, adding a fresh point of view may give the impression that your association is being open minded.

I do hope your association decides to extend an invitation to Dr. Munger. I would love to see the three candidates face to face.

Thank you for your time.


Brian Shields

Brian Shields said...

I have received a response.

"Allan HEAD wrote:

Months ago before any third candidate was qualified to be on the ballot we planned our forum for those who were announced candidates. Since then we have scripted our morning to the minute and even if we wanted to add another candidate we just do not have time now to do so. We are sorry that we cannot accommodate Dr. Munger's desire to participate and we hope you can understand our situation."

Brian Miller said...

Well that's convenient, isn't it? Fix the debate to exclude all third party participants before the ballots are even determined. That way, one can plead "it's unfair" when the Libertarian gets on the ballot (as he does every time).

kavips said...

Dear Sirs and Madams:

I write in regard to your exclusion of a point of view.

As one whose ancestors fought beside yours at King's Mountain, I am disappointed that you have chosen to represent exactly what both yours and my ancestors fought against: suppression of our rights to speak out..and listen to other's opinions.

I certainly expect some type of effort to rectify this breach of our right to hear of a different point of view, and sincerely hope that you give another opportunity for Mr. Munger to describe his position...

Often, in close races, the effort to contain third party participation, is more about confining and controlling the electorate, than about allowing the best candidate the opportunity to rise to the top....

Should a future time occur where you might again need our assistance, be forewarned we will remember how you chose to handle this situation when we meditate our response.

As Always,
Brothers in Democracy: