The City Club of Boise, an organization dedicated to bringing debate and civics discussions to the people of the Treasure Valley, is holding a debate between Republican Butch Otter and Democrat Keith Allred, two men vying to be Idaho's next governor, and one lesser-known candidate is miffed at being snubbed by the group. Jana Kemp, an Independent candidate from Garden City, says the group should include all people in the running for the office. The group says that a Rasmussen poll helped determine who would appear at the event, but documentation obtained by IdahoReporter.com suggests that other reasons might have been behind the decision.
Club officials said that it used a July 21 poll issued by Rasmussen Reports to determine that only Otter and Allred would be able to debate in the hour-long forum, set for Sept. 15. The poll found that Otter held a 53-36 lead over Allred, with 4 percent of the 500 respondents polled favoring another candidate in the race. In an Aug. 6 letter to Kemp, City Club of Boise President Mikel Ward said that the group, following IRS guidelines, invited candidates who received support from 15 percent or more of survey respondents. "The latest poll meeting that criteria of which we are aware is the poll released by Rasmussen Reports on July 21, 2010," wrote Ward to Kemp. "As a result, we have issued formal invitations to both Gov. Otter and Keith Allred." When asked about the requirement by phone Wednesday, Ward confirmed the restriction. "Yes, we used that (poll) to help us develop the criteria," said Ward.
The letter and the statement by Ward contradict a letter sent from Martin L. Peterson, board member of the club, to Allred confirming his presence at the Sept. 15 debate. The letter, dated May 19, 2010, says that the club planned to only have Otter and Allred attend. "The forum will feature the Republican and Democratic candidates for governor," wrote Peterson.
Kemp began making a fuss about the issue Tuesday when, on her Facebook page and Twitter feed, she asked her supporters to e-mail the club and voice their displeasure with the decision. In a letter to IdahoReporter.com, Kemp said she was surprised by the decision. “As a Landmark Contributor to City Club of Boise I am shocked at the decision making process and cover-up used by the current City Club Board to justify their decision of whom to invite to the Sept. 15 gubernatorial Forum,” said Kemp. “I find it interesting that rather than owning up to their misdirected decision-making process the August 6 letter I received is a cover-up for their already in motion original invitation process.”
The debate, set for Sept. 15 in downtown Boise, will feature Otter and Allred, the two front-runners in the race, and will be moderated by Dr. Jim Weatherby, a respected political commentator. Kemp wasn’t the only lesser-known candidate snubbed by the board; Independent Pro-Life and Libertarian Ted Dunlap will also not be welcome at the forum.
Read Kemp's full response to the group here: Jana Kemp's City Club of Boise response letter