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Libertarian Candidate to be Excluded from Final Gubernatorial Debate

Despite a recent rise in the polls, Libertarian Robert Sarvis will not be allowed to debate with Republican Ken Cuccinelli and Democrat Terry McAuliffe on Thursday.

Libertarian Robert Sarvis will not be allowed to participate in an upcoming gubernatorial debate. Patch file photo
Libertarian Robert Sarvis will not be allowed to participate in an upcoming gubernatorial debate. Patch file photo

Three men will be on Virginia's ballot in the governor's race that will be decided on Nov. 5, but only two will participate in the final gubernatorial debate this week.

WDBJ-TV, the Roanoke CBS affiliate, and the campaigns of Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Republican Ken Cuccinelli negotiated terms in advance that required a 10-percent or better average in the polls based on data from the website Real Clear Politics.

The cutoff to hit the 10-percent threshold has passed, as it was set two week's in advance of Thursday's showdown.

Libertarian Robert Sarvis averaged about 9 percent at the time; since then, his average has increased to 9.8 percent.

But despite the television station receiving "quite a bit of negative reaction," as its news director put it, Sarvis' exclusion from the event stands, according to the Washington Post.

WDBJ-TV informed the McAuliffe and Cuccinelli campaigns that it was open to amending the rules for debate participation, though the Cuccinelli campaign won't allow it, the Post reported. 

Traditionally, Libertarian candidates pull support from Republicans, and that seems to be happening in Virginia's race.

"Whenever I meet voters throughout Virginia, they're just elated that they have a third choice. And so it would be a real tragedy for voters not to be able to see me in front of the audience with the other two candidates," Sarvis told WDBJ-TV earlier this month.

Virginia Tech, which is hosting the final debate, also has received complaints about Sarvis' exclusion, according to the Post.

Sarvis was also not allowed to participate in the first gubernatorial debate of this election cycle, which was in late September in McLean and hosted by the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce.

Patch aggregated live comments from Twitter and other sources during that event, including those from Sarvis and the two major-party candidates.

Larry McDorchester October 22, 2013 at 09:09 AM
Bad choice. Any reasonable person would round 9.8 up to 10 percent. C'mon, now. Cuccinelli is obviously scared of losing more support from the right.
Bruce Majors October 22, 2013 at 10:24 AM
Curious optics - Virginia, a confederate state, only lets white candidates with white spouses in its gubernatorial debate

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