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Political notes from Free Press staff writers Terri Hallenbeck, Sam Hemingway and Nancy Remsen



Debating debates

So Anthony Pollina, independent candidate for governor, has charged that his Republican and Democratic rivals are cutting back on debates. Proof, he said, is that various organizations that proposed gubernatorial debates have subsequently cancelled them because either Gov. Jim Douglas or House Speaker Gaye Symington declined to participate.

"Debates are a central part of any campaign and the way Vermonters learn about the candidates," complains Pollina. His staff produced a list of all the debate invitations he'd received. There were more than three dozen, but now five have been cancelled.

Dennise Casey, Douglas campaign manager, said the Republican incumbent is tentatively planning on participating in ten to 15 debates, but hasn't confirmed every date yet.

Michael Carrese, spokesman for the Symington campaign, said she has accepted seven invitations -- all debates that Douglas also agreed to attend. She is open to more, schedules permitting. Carrese reminds that the Symington campaign issued the first challenge on debates -- calling for one in every county.

He added, "If he (Pollina) is implying people are ducking debates, that is certainly not the case."

According to Carrese, the seven gubernatorial debates featuring Symington and Douglas, in some cases it seems without Pollina, will take place as follows:

Sept. 10, NEA debate in Randolph, broadcast by Vermont Public Television. All three candidates.

Sept. 12: Mark Johnson Show on WDEV from Tunbridge Fair. All three.

Sept. 24, Vermont Public Radio at 6 p.m. at a location to be named in Chittenden County, all three.

Oct. 1, Several groups including AARP and Vermont Protection and Advocacy, Brattleboro, broadcast on VPT. All three participating.

Oct. 2, Vermont League of Cities and Towns. Douglas and Symington.

Oct. 10, Manchester Journal Debate, all three.

Oct. 21, Vermont Association of Hospitals and Health Systems. Douglas and Symington.

Debates are always touchy issues for underdogs -- especially those without a lot of money to buy exposure in the media. Pollina argues, "Vermonters deserve to hear directly from candidates rather than through slick television ads and marketing campaigns."

-- Nancy Remsen

Break out a stump and hit the ciruit Anthony. Seriously. Get a stump, plop it in the middle of any Vermont town and start speechifying. Let Douglas and Symington play around with each other on the airwaves (and dull us all in the process) while you're out in Vermont (God forbid) talking person to person. Wellstone had a bus. You have a stump. Dare to be old school.
Pollina- how about just being loyal to the Progressive Party?

It looks so stupid for all of the Progressive candidates to launch these "write in campaigns". It is insulting to those of us who are real Progressives!
Pollina doesn't need a bus. He needs a bus ticket. A one way ticket. Out of Vermont.
Loyal Progressive? Who would that be? How about you run for something as a Progressive? Everybody expects someone else to do the hard work.
Gaye Symington is running for Governor?
Who cares?
What we need is a "real" independent candidate.
Uh. Well. I don't like slick media ads 'cause, well, I can't afford 'em. 'Cause if I could, I'd, like, well, I'd like really bust some chops, being an independent (right?) and all.

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