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Oregonians demand choice - exclusionary debates provide none

As the Green Party candidate for governor, I’m disappointed that the media has decided to exclude me from televised debates.

Oregonians deserve more than to have their election information filtered through a corporation that believes it knows what’s best for you. Other countries’ state-run media does the same, ours apparently does it voluntarily.

I have well-researched policy positions to get our economy back on track, fix health care delivery and improve our schools. But, you won’t get a chance to hear how this Green Party candidate’s surprisingly common sense platform recognizes our need for jobs and wants to help put our forests to work for rural Oregon.

It’s a shame Oregonians are being denied an opportunity to hear from any candidate other than the guy who screwed-up Cover Oregon and the guy who offers little more than screaming about it.

When I contacted KGW to express my desire to participate, they shut me down dismissively. The answer I got was, “We think it’s in the voters’ best interest to hear from the two candidates with the best chance of winning.” Meaning: If you’re not a Democrat or a Republican, you don’t matter.

You know what else matters? Money. And that should offend everyone

reading this.

If I could raise a fraction of the millions of dollars that will be raised by the two big money candidates, I wouldn’t need to appear in the debate. I could use the $350,000 that Dennis Richardson raised in one month to buy enough radio and TV ads to annoy everyone from Portland to Ashland. But mine is a grassroots campaign that relies on a fair society to provide a level playing field so Oregonians can make this important decision.

When I asked the director of state content at the Oregonian Media Group if she thought it was undemocratic to deny you the opportunity to hear from all of the gubernatorial candidates, she said that “It’s not about democracy, it’s just that an hour of live TV goes by really quickly” but that if I wanted, I could write a comment on their website.

Let me be clear, a duly elected candidate for the highest office in Oregon with clear credentials and a plan for Oregon’s economic recovery was told to “make a comment on their website,” instead of appear alongside other candidates in this debate. Oregonians deserve to evaluate all candidates on the same platform with equal rules and time.

According to KGW’s website (where I was invited to comment in lieu of debate) “The Republican and Democratic parties are shrinking. Since the 2010 election, the number of registered voters has expanded 4 percent. But the number of Democrats has dropped 5.2 percent, and the number of Republicans has dropped 1.5 percent. Meanwhile, the number of voters who are unaffiliated or registered with a minor party has jumped 24 percent.” When people are so clearly sick of the two-party system, why is a credible alternative being muscled out?

I want to offer an alternative. Ideas need light to grow, and that light is media exposure. Will I win this election? Probably not. But if allowed to participate, Oregonians will see that there are other ideas out there. I think that’s worth 20 minutes of television time. You should too.

Jason Levin is a Portland resident who is seeking election as Oregon’s governor.




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