GOP candidate complains he wasn’t allowed in Wednesday forum; organizers say he responded too late

There was no shortage of candidates at last night’s gubernatorial debate sponsored by the Minnesota News Council and the League of Women Voters — they even had perennial candidates Ole Savior and Lesley Davis among the 20 participants — but one candidate is complaining today that he wasn’t allowed in.

Bob Carney Jr. — who got 229 first-place votes when he ran for mayor of Minneapolis in November and has now jumped into the governor’s race as a Republican — said he was not allowed on the platform for the event at the Sheraton Bloomington.

“I am a declared major party candidate. I attempted to participate in that event, but was told I had filed too late,” Carney said this morning in an email.

And advance notice for the debate had said that “all declared major party candidates for governor (as defined by the Minnesota Secretary of State) have been invited to participate in the debate.”

So what happened?

Sarah Bauer, executive director of the News Council, responded:

Mr. Carney raised concerns with the organizers as well, but our criteria were:

  • 1. Be an announced candidate of one of the three major parties.
  • 2. Be announced by Jan.11
  • 3. Have a committee filed with the campaign finance board.

Mr. Carney did not meet #3 and came to us with his request to be included at the eleventh hour. Since he did not meet our rsvp deadline or requirement #3, we didn’t include him. We did invite him to cover the event for his blog, however.

Two other candidates, Tom Horner and Joe Repya, both with the Independence Party, announced their campaigns after the debate deadline of Jan. 11. But the News Council says that Horner contacted them a week before the event and asked to be included, so organizers decided to consider late entrants on a case-by-case basis. Horner, who had a committee filed with the Campaign Finance Board, was allowed to participate. Repya never contacted the group.

Carney’s call asking for inclusion came just 24 hours before the debate, when all logistical arrangements had been made. And because he did not have a CFB committee, his request was denied, the News Council said.

Carney did attend the debate and set up a video camera to record it for his blog. He also tried to distribute campaign literature but was told the rules prohibited it, debate organizers said.

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