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Independence Party’s Nicollet barred from Tuesday’s gubernatorial debate

Nicollet had initially been excluded from last week’s Moorhead debate, but at the last minute was invited to participate.

Tuesday’s gubernatorial debate in Duluth now stands to be mano a mano between DFL Gov. Mark Dayton and GOP challenger Jeff Johnson. Independence Party candidate Hannah Nicollet is not invited.

Nicollet says on her web site that David Ross, head of the Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce, which is sponsoring the debate, said he excluded her because it “would be a violation of the trust we were afforded by the Dayton and Johnson teams. It is that simple.”

Last week, Nicollet was initially not invited to a debate in Moorhead because she didn’t reach a 10 percent standing in the polls. But eventually, the Fargo Forum newspapers, sponsor of the debate, said they’d found a poll showing her at 11 percent, and extended the invitation. She did participate.

Nicollet’s statement says that Dayton wants her in all the debates, “but many Republican strategists believe her participation would draw fiscally conservative voters from Jeff Johnson with her policies of abolishing the state corporate tax and eliminating the influence of special interest groups.”

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And she notes that the Duluth Chamber, sponsoring the debate, is a branch of the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, which has endorsed Johnson.

And the Duluth Chamber held an 8th District congressional debate last week that included the Green Party candidate.