California Candidate Debates Exclude Alternative Voices


Christina Tobin, Founder & Chair
Phone: 312-320-4101

California Candidate Debates Exclude Alternative Voices

MORAGA, Calif. — Saint Mary’s College of California hosted the first U.S. senatorial candidate debate, Wednesday, September 1, which included incumbent Democrat Barbara Boxer and Republican challenger Carly Fiorina, but excluded the remaining six alternative candidates.

In addition, a number of high-profile gubernatorial debates, which exclude all candidates except Democrat Jerry Brown and Republican rival Meg Whitman, have been scheduled throughout California. This non-inclusive debate series will kick off September 28 with a televised debate hosted at the University of California, Davis, and co-sponsored by the Sacramento Bee, to be followed by an October 2 debate at California State University, Fresno, and a Ronn Owens radio debate October 5 on KGO-810 AM. Tom Brokaw has agreed to moderate the final debate, October 12, sponsored and hosted by Dominican University of California.

“Non-inclusive debates are not a new phenomenon,” said Christina Tobin, founder and chair of The Free and Equal Elections Foundation. “However, the true purpose of candidate debates should be to provide a forum for all qualified candidates to discuss the issues and provide voters with the knowledge they need to make informed decisions at the polls.”

Brown has challenged Whitman to a number of joint town hall appearances in addition to the already confirmed debate schedule.

“Every one of these debates is hosted by a credible organization, guaranteeing a fair and open forum,” Brown said in a statement, reported on The Sacramento Bee’s Capital Alert blog. “There is no reason not to participate, no reason not to say what we really mean, and show the voters who we are.”

“Brown’s guarantee of a fair and open forum is severely flawed,” Tobin said. “The only way to make these debates truly fair and open is to include all qualified candidates. They deserve the opportunity to participate, say what they really mean and show the voters who they are as well. If Brown wants to promote fairness, he should start playing fair, himself.”

“Non-inclusive debates do not provide voters with the answers they need to make informed decisions at the polls,” Tobin said. “These faux debates only work with insider candidates and partisan media, providing little if any substantial information.”

Gubernatorial candidates, Chelene Nightingale of the Constitution Party and Laura Wells of the Green Party, along with California Peace & Freedom Party State Chair C.T. Weber, Libertarian National Chair Mark Hinkle, Green Party National Co-Chair Michael Feinstein and Constitution Party National Chair Jim Clymer, have said they agree with Free and Equal’s opposition of all non-inclusive candidate debates.

“All Free and Equal debates follow a strict policy of inviting every eligible candidate,” Tobin said. “Free and Equal is calling on other debate organizers to follow our lead by doing what is right for the people, not favoring the political insiders and biased media.”

“Free & Equal will continue to shine light on this unfair and corrupt practice in addition to hosting truly open and all-inclusive debates across the country,” Tobin said. “Free and Equal is teaming up with student organizations at universities nationwide to produce the all-inclusive debates the public is crying for. The students are our next generation of leaders, and Free and Equal is thrilled to be part of their introduction to civic responsibility, in hopes of providing a much more just future for Americans across the board.”

With university and student support, Free and Equal will produce a string of all-inclusive, back-to-back gubernatorial and U.S. senatorial candidate debates beginning with debates in California, Illinois and Oklahoma, with more states signing on rapidly.

“Students for Sensible Drug Policy chapters are stepping up to the plate in several states and we are anticipating support from other groups such as Students for Liberty, Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity and student governments, among others, to join in and help,” Tobin said.

All Free and Equal debates will be streamed live on and will cover a number of important issues including economics, war, drugs, election reform and proportional representation in addition to many others.

Free & Equal has launched a petition at to open all debates to include all qualified candidates and would appreciate your support of our mission by signing the petition and spreading the word.


Free & Equal is a nonpartisan, nonprofit, public-policy advocacy organization dedicated to protecting the rights of the politically marginalized and disenfranchised, particularly those of third party and Independent candidates.