9/28/2010 4:14 PM
That there will be three lecturns at an upcoming televised gubernatorial debate is no surprise.
That it won't feature Republican Gov. Rick Perry is also no surprise to those following the back-and-forth between the incumbent and Democratic rival Bill White -- but it may surprise viewers who will expect the usual Republican-Democratic slugfest.
The Austin American Statesman reported Libertarian Kathie Glass and Green Party nominee Deb Shafto today accepted invitations from several high-circulation newspapers and KLRU-TV of Austin to participate in an Oct. 19 debate.
“I will debate all takers,” Glass, a 38-year-old Houston civil trial lawyer, told the Statesman.
Shafto, a retired teacher and union organizer, also indicated to the Statesman she will appear.
White accepted the invitation last month -- though the Perry campaign has long said the Governor would not debate White unless the former Houston mayor handed over tax returns from the mid-'90s. The Perry Campaign set a deadline of Sept. 15, which White did not heed.
The Statesman reported White and Glass have participated in forums together before, and that Shafto, Glass and White have all indicated they are willing to participate in a League of Women Voters of the Houston Area debate on Sunday.
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Before we dismiss Shafto's and Glass' inclusion in the debates as simple courtesies, let's take a look at the situation about half a year ago when another longshot was given a chance to share the spotlight.
During the GOP primary race, Debra Medina appeared alongside Perry and fellow Republican candidate Kay Bailey Hutchison in a couple of debates. Medina picked up significant public recognition and support. Though she is as much a Republican as Perry and Hutchison (a former county chair, and 2008 candidate for party vice-chairman), Medina was previoulsy passed off as a longshot by many editorial writers and reporters alike -- some said she wouldn't clear 3 percent.
But the television exposure (mixed with an aggressive boots-on-the-ground campaign piloted mostly by former Ron Paul supporters) gave Medina a boost which had her almost neck-and-neck with Hutchison in the polls (in the mid-20s -- depending on which polls you read and/or believe).
Medina's come-from-behind performance held until she told radio show host Glenn Beck that she was uncertain of the cause of the 9/11 attacks. She still managed to finish with 18.5 percent to Hutchison's 30.3 percent and Perry's 51 percent.
And let's not forget the performance of two independents in 2006. Former Texas Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn picked up 18 percent (the same margin as Medina) in the 2006 general election, and comedian Kinky Friedman racked up 12.4 percent. However, Libertarian James Werner didn't clear 1 percent.
Will third-party nominees Glass and Shafto approach Medina/Strayhorn levels after their appearances? Based on how Medina's support rose and then fell, that may depend on how they answer questions.
Expect all three of the candidates to take digs at Perry.