In mid-May, Gov. Butch Otter rejected an invitation to appear in a primary election forum, saying some of his opponents were excluded from the event because they didn't meet certain requirements set forth by Idaho Public Television (IPTV), which sponsored the debate. However, Otter has decided to attend a debated slated for Sept. 15, sponsored by the City Club of Boise, which has chosen to exclude three gubernatorial candidates for not meeting certain polling thresholds.
The City Club of Boise, a civics-minded organization dedicated to bringing political discussion to its members and the community at-large, decided in August to exclude Independents Jana Kemp and Pro-Life, as well as Libertarian Ted Dunlap, from a debate in September. The organization said that Kemp, Life, and Dunlap failed to garner enough support in a recent Rasmussen Reports poll, which showed that Otter held a 53-36 lead over his Democratic challenger, former mediator and college professor Keith Allred of Eagle. The club decided to only include Otter and Allred in the forum, citing the poll results.
Otter's campaign manager, Debbie Field, said that there are key differences between City Club of Boise and Idaho Public Television. "He believes that because IPTV receives taxpayers’ dollars, everyone should have been included if they are on the ballot," explained Field. "Because city club doesn't receive taxpayer dollars, it's not the same." Otter and his team don't want to see the three outsiders kept out of the forum, however. ""We have accepted the city club debate, but we ask that everyone on the ballot be included in the event," said Field.
This isn't the first time Otter has been encircled by debate controversy. Earlier this year, Otter declined to debate GOP challengers Rex Rammell and Sharon Ullman because IPTV excluded Pete Peterson of Boise, Walt Bayes of Wilder, and Tamara Wells of Post Falls from the event for not meeting guidelines of what the television station considered to be active campaigns.
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