HARTFORD, CT — (Updated 10 a.m.) The head of the Connecticut Association of Realtors (CTR) said his staff has a podium ready for Oz Griebel if a poll happens to be released that shows the petitioning candidate with more than 10 percent of the vote.
The odds of that happening in the next few hours before the two major party gubernatorial candidates meet for their second debate at the Shubert Theater in New Haven are slim to none.
Michael Barbaro, president of CTR, the organization sponsoring the debate, said Friday that in order to move forward with any of these debates his organization needed to find a media partner. It did: WTNH News 8.
WTNH’s Texas-based parent company, Nexstar Broadcasting, sets forth their criteria for political debates. Among other things the company requires participants “to have 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 hasn’t met. Griebel received 4 percent in the Aug. 23 Quinnipiac University poll, which was in the field the day after the Aug. 14 primary. The Quinnipiac Poll was based on a sample of 1,029 people. As a comparison, Griebel’s campaign qualified for ballot access by collecting the verified signatures of 7,500 registered voters.
“If Oz qualifies we would love to have him there,” Barbaro said Friday.
Last week, Griebel said the two major parties don’t want him in the debate and “in the case of WTNH, the media doesn’t want us in.” He said this is because the two major party candidates have spent tens of thousands of dollars on media buys on WTNH.
Griebel said everyone at WTNH ought to be wearing the letter “A” to “show that they have an adulterous affair with money and power and abandoned the principles of democracy.”
WTNH simply pointed to the criteria set forth by Nexstar Broadcasting.
Griebel and Monte Frank his runningmate came to the Capitol last week to talk to reporters following the first gubernatorial debate in New London.
Frank said there were no winners in that debate because it “was not a debate about the ideas.” He said it was simply a repeat of the attack ads they see every day on the news.
“What the people deserve is a discussion about the issues,” Frank added.
Griebel and Frank will be in New Haven Monday at BAR restaurant and will be answering the questions posed to the two major party candidates on a Facebook Live stream, the same thing they did last week during the New London debate.
Griebel isn’t the only one who will be left off the stage Monday.
Libertarian Party candidate Rod Hanscomb and Amigo Constitution Party candidate Mark Stewart Greenstein also will be on the ballot in November, but have not been invited to the debate because they also don’t meet the threshold set forth by WTNH’s parent company.
Hanscomb received 1 percent of the vote in the Aug. 23 Quinnipiac University poll and Greenstein had yet to make the ballot when that poll was released. It’s the only poll Quinnipiac University has done in Connecticut over the past two years.
It’s unknown yet whether they will release another poll closer to the election.
Dan Reale, chairman of Hanscomb’s campaign, said Hanscomb should also be included in the debate.
“Our candidate, despite the unfairly high criteria (requiring to be met prior to August 30, which cannot normally be achieved unless all the signatures are counted well in advance of that, which they were not), qualifies,” Reale said.
He said last week The Day and WTNH engaged “in an act of electoral welfare to prop up Democrats and Republicans at the expense of real ideas that need to heard and considered to address the problems Connecticut faces.”
How much of a chance does a third-party candidate have?
Gary Rose, professor and chair of the political sciences department at Sacred Heart University, said a few weeks ago that Griebel may pull more votes that would have otherwise gone to Republican candidate Bob Stefanowski.
Griebel ran for governor in 2010 as a Republican, but has support from a wider base than just Republicans.
Rose said that the 859,470 unaffiliated voters tend to split down party lines come election time with maybe 10 to 15 percent of them who are truly independent and unable to be pinned down by either party.
There are about 2.1 million registered voters in the state.