I want North Carolinians (and all Americans) to be aware that the only scheduled pre-primary televised debate for U.S. Senate Candidates from North Carolina will not include all of the candidates who are qualified and/or running.
Recently, I was invited to participate in a televised debate for U.S. Senate Candidates. After months of speaking out about the importance of expecting more from candidates, I was elated. There was only one matter of formality - a candidate must agree to meet the conglomerate's criterion for a "qualified candidate". Sounds easy enough, right? After all, the only qualifications required by the Constitution to run for Senate are age (30+), U.S. citizenship, and residency in the state a Senator represents at the time of election. Upon closer review, the network's criterion (attached) had absolutely nothing to do with one's qualifications to serve as a U.S. Senator, and very much to do with one's ability to raise and spend PAC and voter money. As a result of my decision to run a "no donations" Senate campaign, I will not meet the requirement of $50,000 in fundraising required to participate in the televised debate. While this is personally disappointing to me, and creates an additional penalty for demonstrating fiscal responsibility, my greatest concern is the way a news network's decisions will shape North Carolinian - American - decisions about candidates and election outcomes. Much of this is occurring completely unbeknownst to voters. A few facts of particular import I'd like to raise:
1. Many "local" news stations in several states, including North Carolina, are not local at all - often they are part of a national media company (as is the case here).
2. Many national media conglomerates also own/maintain Political Action Committees (PACs) - political committees organized for the purpose of raising and spending money to elect and defeat candidates (as is the case here).
3. Media outlets - regardless of size or affiliation - are treated as businesses with First Amendment rights. This means that they have the freedom to choose who and how they cover elections, and select any qualifying criterion they choose.
What happens on election day is really irrelevant when the media controls which candidates are given coverage based on how they think campaigns should be run. North Carolinians - and Americans - deserve better. Expect more from your candidates AND the media. It's possible. #Jen4SenNC #itspossible