Senate candidates snub women's league
This weekend marks the second of five scheduled debates between Sen. Norm Coleman, Al Franken, and Dean Barkley. Strangely, the lineup left out one prominent long-time senatorial debate host: the Minnesota League of Women Voters.
“We had gotten tentative commitments from them,” said Keesha Gaskins, executive director of the Minnesota league, but the invitation was declined. “Every election year for 30 years, the League of Women Voters has done a senatorial debate, and this year we were denied that opportunity.”
KSTP.com reported that the Franken campaign declined the invitation because the debate would have been aired on KSTP-TV. The owners of the station, the Stanley Hubbard family, are donors to Republican candidates, according to the KSTP.com story. The Web site quoted Franken as saying that he did not know why the invite was declined.
The Franken campaign declined to comment on why debate invitations were accepted or declined, citing a confidential agreement between the three candidates about the process. However, the campaign did say that the League invitation was not, as the KSTP.com story alleged, rejected because of Hubbard's connection to the station. The Coleman campaign did not return phone calls for comment Friday.
The Barkley campaign accepts every invitation to speak, according to spokesman Chris Truscott.
The Minnesota League of Women Voters is a non-partisan group that provides voter information, including 500,000 voter guides this season.
An invitations from the Minnesota Women Lawyers and YWCA of Minneapolis to debates that would have focused on women’s issues was also rejected.
Three of the senatorial debates are hosted by Debate Minnesota, one by Minnesota Public Radio, and one by Almanac, the public television program.
Saturday’s debate will take place at 7 p.m. at Breck High School, at the Cargill Theater, 123 Ottawa Avenue North, Minneapolis, MN 55422. See DebateMinnesota.org for ticketing and more information.
Editor's Note: The original blog erroneously reported that an invitation from the Minnesota Women's Political Caucus was rejected. That was incorrect, and no such invitation was rejected.