MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A Libertarian candidate for governor who was shut out of an upcoming debate between Gov. Rick Scott and former Governor Charlie Crist has filed a federal lawsuit seeking inclusion.
Adrian Wyllie’s suit, filed in Broward County, names the Florida Press Association, Leaderhip Florida and Broward College where the October 15th debate will be held. CBS4 is hosting the event which will be televised across the state.READ MORE: Business Owners In South Florida Say They're Struggling To Get Employees Back To Work
According to Dean Ridings, President & CEO, Florida Press Association, only candidates who earn 15 percent support in a “reputable independent poll” by Sept. 30 can join the debate.
“Since 2010, the partnership of Leadership Florida and the Florida Press Association have conducted four statewide debates with a requirement that participating candidates have at least 15% polling support, including the benefit of the poll’s margin of error. There are currently ten candidates who have qualified to run for governor. In a 60 minute debate, there is no feasible way for all ten to express their views, and most of the candidates have no reasonable chance of winning the election. Therefore, we had to have criteria that would include any candidate with a viable chance of winning. We believe our 15% threshold achieves that goal, and the people of Florida will have an opportunity to hear from the candidates who have a real chance of winning the election.”
While Wylle’s poll numbers have climbed, they fell just short of the threshold. His suit claims his equal protection rights have been violated by exclusion from the debate.
“The ADRIAN WYLLIE Campaign has generated substantial public interest, and would clearly general appreciably more public interest if allowed to enjoy the true guarantees provided by [federal law] and if he was truly provided ‘equal access’ to the publicity surrounding the integral debate component of the electoral process,” according to his suit.‘Pretty Big Pay Package’: Broward School Board Negotiates $743K Exit Deal For Embattled Supt. Robert Runcie
Wyllie said the press association’s criteria has a double standard. He points out that he was invited to a Florida Press Association candidate forum in July which had a polling threshold of 12 percent. Ridings said Wyllie was polling at 8 percent and the poll had a error margin of 4 percent so he was invited to participate. Ridings added that the forum had different qualification rules from the televised debate.
Wyllie argues that his Fourteenth Amendment equal protection rights are also being harmed as a result by the college, whose “actions” he describes as “ arbitrary, oppressive and capricious,” according to the Miami Herald. He adds that since college president J. David Armstrong is the chair of Leadership Florida, the college is thereby an active participant in the ground rules. Ridings said Armstrong was excluded from decisions about the debate-qualification rules.
This Friday, Wyllie plans to protest at the first of three debates between Scott and Crist. It will be held at the Telemundo51/NBC6 studios in Miramar. The third and final debate between the two major candidates takes place October 21st in Jacksonville.
Crist wanted more debates, but Scott would only agree to three.
CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald contributed to this report.MORE NEWS: Pembroke Pines PD: 15-Year-Old Bicyclist Killed After Being Dragged Under Minivan For 30 Feet
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