Round Up: Can a Third-Party Candidate Get on Stage?

Plus, Virginia college students will use app to determine debate questions for Congressional candidates, the Labour Party’s leadership debates, #ZambiaDecides, and more.

Jeremy Corbyn is being challenged by Owen Smith for leadership of the Labour Party.

The Labour Party is holding a series of debates involving Jeremy Corbyn and challenger Owen Smith. Questions can be submitted online.

Debating and Voting Post-Brexit
The Labour Party’s leadership debates are being shown live on the party’s website, enabling viewers to watch on any device. Questions for candidates are also being accepted via the website, and past debates are posted on the site and the party’s YouTube channel. So far, six of the nine debates promised have been held or are scheduled.

Plus: Why Debating Still Matters, a reflection by Alex Clark on the art—and state—of debate in today’s politically fractious world.

Zambia’s incumbent president, Edgar Lungu of the ruling Patriotic Front, has been reelected in a close vote contested by the leading opposition party. A presidential debate hosted in early August by MUVI TV attracted five of the nine candidates; the United Party for National Development (UPND), led by Hakainde Hichilema, who came in a close second, had called for the televised debate, which Lungu did not attend.  

Chris Doten, senior manager for technology and innovation at the National Democratic Institute, was blogging and tweeting from Zambia last week, leaving me convinced there’s nothing as stressful as being responsible for technology on election day. 

U.S. Presidential Debates
The Commission for Presidential Debates won’t decide whether third-party candidates will be invited to the debates until mid-September—it depends on whether they can reach 15 percent in these five national polls by that point—but the Commission is asking venues hosting the debates to be prepared, reports Politico.

The CPD also has yet to announce the debate moderators, but that hasn’t stopped Donald Trump from stating which journalists he might approve of—and who should be crossed off the list.  

In response to Trump’s criticism of the scheduling of two of the debates on the same night as NFL games, the Washington Post takes a closer look at whether prime-time games have deflated debate viewership (spoiler alert: not so much).

“The point is factors besides scheduling—namely the electorate’s level of interest—contribute to TV ratings,” writes Callum Borchers. “If Trump is the ‘ratings machine’ he claims to be, history suggests he ought to do just fine against the NFL.”

Plus: TechRepublic put together a brief historical overview of technological innovation in reaching presidential election voters, starting with the first televised debate between Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy.


State Spotlight – Virginia
Candidates for the 5th Congressional District—former Albemarle County Supervisor Jane Dittmar, a Democrat, and Republican state Sen. Tom Garrett—will debate at least four times, with the possibility of adding more to the schedule.

The debate on Oct. 10 at Piedmont Virginia Community College may prove to be the most interesting, at least when it comes to format and technology. Connie Jorgensen, assistant professor of political science at PVCC, told me the students will use icitizen, a civic engagement app, to determine some of the questions for the candidates.

Sponsored by The Daily Progress and the Charlottesville television station Newsplex, the debate will be moderated by Newsplex anchor Dan Schutte with a panel that is expected to include PVCC President Frank Friedman, a PVCC student, and two representatives from Newsplex. The first hour will be televised and the second hour will be streamed live online.

Arkansas: In the U.S. Senate race, Democratic challenger Conner Eldridge and Republican Sen. John Boozman will take part in just one debate, which will air in October on public television channel AETN. Boozman declined to participate in other debates.

Florida: Florida Today and Eastern Florida State College have been hosting a series of popular candidate forums for Brevard County local races, including state legislature,county commission, and clerk of courts.

Produced and moderated by Florida Today’s public affairs editor, Matt Reed, the debates have been streamed live on Florida Today’s website and aired on local cable channels. Viewers were encouraged to comment on Twitter using the hashtag #321vote (which didn’t get a lot of play, but still). Other co-sponsors include The Space Coast League of Cities and the League of Women Voters of the Space Coast.

In other Florida news, U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz debated her Democratic primary opponent, law professor Tim Canova, Sunday morning on “Facing South Florida with Jim DeFede” on CBS4 Miami. It was streamed live on and

“We were hoping for at least three, two-hour debates, but for the time being, this will have to suffice,” Canova said prior to the debate.

And Jacksonville University’s Public Policy Institute will hold three debates on the university campus this week moderated by WJXT Channel 4. The debate for state attorney will be streamed live on and recorded for later viewing, while the debates for two U.S. House seats will be livestreamed and televised live.

Plus: The Democratic Progressive Caucus of Florida Chair Susan Smith called on Democratic candidates who have yet to hold debates for their primary races to step up: “We caution Democratic candidates that by refusing to hold town hall meetings or debate their primary opponents, they may be sending a message that our party doesn’t value or trust voters. They are undermining our goal of having an informed electorate. They are also failing to define their campaigns and are weakening Democratic Party chances to win seats in the state legislature, the Congress and the U.S. Senate. We deserve better.”

The Democratic and the Republican U.S. Senate candidates are both unlikely to debate before the Aug. 30 primary.

Illinois: Republican U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk and U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth, a Democrat seeking Kirk’s seat, have agreed to three televised debates: a University of Illinois at Springfield debate on Oct. 24; a City Club of Chicago and WTTW “Chicago Tonight” debate on Oct. 26; and a final debate in Chicago on ABC-7 with the League of Women Voters on a date still to be determined.

Iowa: Republican U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley said he will participate in two debates with Democratic challenger Patty Judge—one televised and one broadcast statewide hosted by Iowa Public Television and WHO Radio. Judge had sought four televised debates and a radio debate.

In a role reversal of sorts, U.S. Rep. Rod Blum is challenging his Democratic opponent, Monica Vernon, to six debates. Blum had originally proposed 10 debates, while Vernon continues to push for only two.

“I think that’s reasonable, trying to compromise,” Blum said Thursday. “I’m puzzled. I’m absolutely puzzled why a challenger would not want to debate.”

Missouri: Secretary of State Jason Kander, the Democratic challenger taking on Republican U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, penned an open letter to Blunt requesting nine televised debates—one in each of the state’s largest media markets. The candidates are currently scheduled to meet once, on Sept. 30, in a debate hosted by the Missouri Press Association aired on public access television.

Montana: Republican Rep. Ryan Zinke and Democratic challenger Denise Juneau have agreed to four debates across the state, including one to be held on an American Indian reservation—a first for Montana. Juneau, the state school superintendent, initially sought six debates. The debates will be hosted by area farm bureaus and local and statewide media.

North Carolina: Deborah Ross, a Democrat who is challenging Republican U.S. Sen. Richard Burr, made another push for debates after a federal appeals court struck down North Carolina’s voter ID law and restored a week of early voting. The campaigns just recently sat down with the North Carolina Association of Broadcasters for negotiations, but it’s unclear whether any debates will be scheduled. During the primary, Burr declined to debate his opponents, while Ross took part in one of two debates with fellow Democrats.

Plus: The North Carolina Institute of Political Leadership (IOPL) is teaming up with local chambers of commerce, newspapers, and broadcasters to host “Hometown Debates” in September for lieutenant governor, attorney general, and state treasurer candidates.