HARTFORD, CT — Oz Griebel, a petitioning candidate for governor will be on the ballot in November, but as of now he won’t be included in all of the debates.
His campaign is fighting the decision to leave him out of a Sept. 12 debate sponsored by The Day and WTNH and a Sept. 17 debate sponsored by the CT Realtors Association and WTNH.
WTNH says the criteria it uses for all debates are from its Texas-based parent Nexstar Broadcasting.
The criteria says: “He or she has received a minimum of 5 percent for a primary election, or 10 percent for a general election, support in an established, professionally conducted nonpartisan poll without taking the survey’s margin of error into account.”
It’s the only criteria listed in the form that Griebel doesn’t meet.
Griebel received 4 percent in the Aug. 23 Quinnipiac University poll, which was in the field the day after the Aug. 14 primary.
Griebel said as a third party candidate with the two major parties spending lots of money to get out the vote for the primary, 4 percent in a poll of about 1,029 Connecticut residents isn’t necessarily bad.
It’s unlikely there will be another poll before the Sept. 12 or the Sept. 17 debate. However, as late as Friday Griebel could still gain a seat at the debate if a legitimate poll is released showing him with at least 10 percent, Paul Choiniere, editorial page editor at The Day, said.
At the moment, only the Democratic nominee, Ned Lamont, and the Republican nominee, Bob Stefanowski, are participating.
“Both The Day and WTNH believe the standards are fair and that the campaigns were given ample opportunity to review and responds to them,” Choiniere added.
He said the debate information was given to the campaign soon after the Aug. 14 primary and there was no complaint offered by Griebel until the Quinnipiac University poll was released.
No one, aside from Quinnipiac University, knew when they were releasing the results of their poll. It’s also unclear if they will do another poll on the race. Before last month, Quinnipiac University Polling Institute hadn’t polled in Connecticut in two years.
Choiniere said if Gallup, Harris, Pew, Marist or Neilsen, for example, decided to take a look at the Connecticut governor’s race, they would qualify as professional, nonpartisan polls. But none of those poll organizations have looked at the governor’s race in Connecticut in past election cycles.
The Hartford Business Journal did an online poll asking simply “Who will be Connecticut’s next governor?” Of the 251 responses, Griebel received 17.5 percent of the vote in a poll that doesn’t count.
Griebel questioned the validity of the polls because polls don’t vote and he believes it’s a disservice to voters to leave a candidate who will be on the November ballot off the stage.
“Polls don’t vote. Voters vote,” Griebel said.
Griebel said The Day and WTNH are “empathetic to our perspective,” and are blaming the parent company of WTNH for the rules.
Griebel said he hates to think the decision has anything to do with how much money the other two major party candidates spent with the station during the primary.
“How much did Bob Stefanowski and Ned Lamont spent on ads with WTNH?” Griebel asked.
Between July 30 and Sept. 3 Lamont has purchased $78,500 in advertising with the station. Stefanowski has purchased about $42,500 with the station during the same time period.
“I’m a little disappointed because it raises the perception that money had something to do with it,” Griebel said.
He added that “it’s the responsibility of the media to make sure the voters get a chance to hear from everybody.”
Griebel said Lamont secured the nomination in a primary against Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim that wasn’t competitive and Stefanowski only won with around 42,000 votes, which is less than 10 percent of registered Republicans in the state.
Griebel said he will continue his fight to be included in the debates. Failing that he plans to be outside the Garde Arts Center in New London Sept. 12 to help voters understand they have another choice.
In the meantime, Griebel has secured the support of more than 400 people who want to see him on the debate stage.
In signing the online petition, Alysha Thomas said she’s “so sick of the two party system, I am excited to hear more from Oz!”
Steve Oliwa said: “I need to know more about where Oz stands and what he thinks he can do to fix Connecticut.”
James Dawson said debates are supported to inform the public of the candidates and their views. “If they have ballot access they should be in the debates.”
Griebel will appear Wednesday at the debate hosted by the Connecticut Conference of Independent Colleges. Stefanowski declined to participate in that debate so it will only be Lamont and Griebel. The debate will be held at 7 p.m. at the University of Saint Joseph’s Hoffman Auditorium at the Bruyette Athenaeum, 1678 Asylum Avenue, West Hartford.