To All Candidates for Secretary of State,
As co-chairs of the Independent Voter Project, we are respectfully requesting that all of the candidates for secretary of state decline to participate in the Sacramento Press Club event scheduled for Wednesday. The Press Club has chosen to deny David Curtis, a Green Party candidate, the right to participate in this debate.
This decision reflects both an ongoing bias in the media against third party candidates, a fundamental lack of understanding of California's nonpartisan primary system, and a level of hubris generally reserved for politicians. The club has justified its position by claiming that Mr. Curtis was "rude."If so, it is for voters to pass judgement, not the Press Club. We speak from experience when we say every candidate has a right to make an ass of themselves, and the voters have a right to see it. And, candidly, voters often judge candidates quite differently than we might expect.
The two major parties continue to enjoy a competitive advantage in both fundraising and free media attention. This, of course, has the effect of undermining the rights of the fastest growing group of voters in our state -- independents.
In the old closed primary system, Mr. Curtis would have been ignored by the Press Club twice. Once in the primary and again in the general election. And, in that system, it was true that Mr. Curtis had no chance of actually winning the election.
However, as both public and private polling has confirmed, Mr. Curtis has a very real chance of making a top-two runoff in this year's secretary of state race. Moreover, if he were to make it to November against a Republican opponent, Mr. Curtis would be favored to win the seat.
When the press appoints itself as the arbiter of candidate access, it undermines our democracy and infringes upon each voter's right to a comprehensive view of the choice of candidates. Those who seek to be this state's chief election officer should be at the forefront of protecting that right. To fail to stand up for Mr. Curtis is to fail to stand up for each of those voters.
INDEPENDENT VOTER PROJECT
Author of California's Open Primary
P.S. We also respectfully recommend, in the event that the Press Club should see reason and reverse its position, that Mr. Curtis recognize that his opportunity to be a serious contender is dependent, in part, on his ability to demonstrate an ability to express his passion and his beliefs in a manner that voters associate with civility and mutual respect. A fact underscored in the same polling and focus groups that point to his potential as the first third-party candidate to be elected to a California statewide office.