News Release: Local media outlet attacks Michigan’s third largest party

Local (Livingston County) media outlet attacks Michigan’s third largest party, continues support for exclusion of local candidate
Press & Argus continues to attempt to make editor’s case for exclusion of some candidates from ‘all-candidate’ debate
September 19, 2012 By Campaign Staff 1 Comment

For Immediate Release

Local media outlet attacks Michigan’s third largest party, continues support for exclusion of local candidate

Brighton, Mich.—In an attempt to minimize the Libertarian Party.—and Libertarian candidate James Lewis in the process—the Livingston Daily Press & Argus went “above and beyond” their expected tactics, says Lewis campaign manager Steve Mace.

In addition to a predictable story about Libertarian candidates struggling to gain a foothold in the popular vote, they went out of their way to find the “lone dissenting Libertarian voice to make its case” against the “planned and overwhelmingly supported protest” of the Press & Argus-sponsored ‘all candidates’ debate.’

“We were expecting an article like this at some point [referring to the Argus’ first story: Libertarians face long road to ballot box], particularly after having challenged Argus Executive Editor Rich Perlberg and his assertion that  third-party candidates are only ‘a distraction’ in debates,” says Mace.

“It’s pretty standard fare for the media to attempt to paint Libertarians as fringe candidates of little consequence. So we’re not surprised by the Press & Argus’ first story this morning,” Mace continues.

The second story [Libertarian candidate: not being included in forum ‘completely reasonable’], published in the Press & Argus this morning, appears to be more of a direct attack on the Lewis campaign, according to Mace.

The Press & Argus quoted a Mr. John Hargenrader in full and almost verbatim support of Mr. Perlberg’s position. Hargenrader, a candidate for Livingston County Board of Commissioners, echoed Perlberg’s opinion that Libertarians must first have a “better showing” before they should expect to be involved in the public debate process.

The Lewis campaign staff is very familiar with Hargenrader and his opinions, says Mace. “Mr. Hargenrader has contacted us many, many times over the course of the campaign to share his personal thoughts,” says Mace. “He has also, on several occasions via email, defended Mr. Perlberg’s position on Lewis’ exclusion from the debate, and has stated to us via email that he corresponds with Mr. Perlberg frequently,” Mace says.

“We have always thanked Hargenrader for expressing his opinions,” Mace said, although he is quick to point out that some of Hargenrader’s positions differ vastly from the basic premises of the Libertarian party.

“While we have the utmost respect for his right to express his ideas, we find them inconsistent with those of the Libertarian party,” explains Mace. Mace says that Hargenrader is well-known for expressing his views in public forums; some of these views are quite contrary to the Libertarian party’s views. For example, Hargenrader supports public funding for municipal projects (and the added tax burden) over privatization, as well as other ideas that fly in the face of basic Libertarian values.

“Mr. Hargenrader’s comments damage not just the Lewis campaign, but hurts candidates across the state who are struggling for recognition and a place in the public debate,” says Mace. “Clearly his views are not widely supported by the Libertarian party in Michigan, or by members of other parties for that matter.”

Mace points out that the Lewis campaign has received several hundred emails and phone calls from people of all party affiliations, supporting and encouraging Lewis’ constitutional right to protest.

“People have even stopped James in the streets to offer their support on the issue. From the feedback we have gotten, Mr. Hargenrader has been the sole dissent we have received. James also has the full support of Party leadership in this matter,” Mace says.

Mace says it is not uncommon for members of political parties to have differing opinions on certain issues. Democrats and Republicans both have historically, internally and publicly, feuded over issues such as the support over slavery and alcohol prohibition. He says the two other major parties remain internally divided on issues to this day. Mace cited the split of the GOP with the Tea Party and moderates, as well as “north and south democrats” or “Blue-Dogs,” saying that a dissenting opinion by one member of a particular party in no way represents the feelings of the majority of that party’s members.

“The other major parties have had divides over major issues in the past; in fact it has almost become tradition for them, and it continues today. It happens right here in Michigan. It appears the Republican House, Senate and Administration frequently cannot agree on the color of the sky, let alone policy,” Mace said.

The Lewis campaign insists this matter is not one of state Libertarian Party platform or position. It is, however, one of “old versus new.”

“Lewis has said from the start that he is a ‘21st century Libertarian’ and is not interested is simply providing a paper candidacy. Increasingly Libertarians across the state have decided to get in it to win it, not simply run as a protest vote,” said Mace.

“There will be some who remain content to simply provide a name on the ballot to offer voters a ‘protest vote, and that is entirely their prerogative,” Mace continued. “The Party has grown, it has matured, and is sending a message that now resonates with voters: Real change is needed and desired in Michigan and this makes supporters of the status quo very uneasy,” Mace says.

As for two articles coming out on the same day regarding the local Libertarian candidates and the Party itself, Mace says it indicates the importance of the party in today’s political environment. He says there is still an element of ‘inaccurate myth’ prevalent and perpetuated by the media, which is why it is imperative for all candidates on the ballot to be included in public debates. Mace says it is the job of every candidate to “send the message that the game has changed.”

“Each respective race has to be approached individually. This morning’s articles attempt to paint all Libertarian candidates with the same brush. Oddly, they seldom draw attention to, for instance, the incumbent’s [Bill Rogers] dramatic political differences with Republicans in the north and west of the state,” Mace says.

Mace says the state’s Libertarian Party is united on platform and position, claiming that the state party is focused on ‘Constitution first’ and ‘fiscal responsibility and personal liberty tied for a very close second,’ and that candidates need to focus on issues relevant to the constituency they wish to represent.

The Lewis campaign has openly questioned if there was a deeper reasoning for Lewis’ removal from the debate. Specifically, they cite debate organizer Judith Scranton being a former Republican House representative (the seat currently held by Republican incumbent Bill Rogers) and questioned how she would not know the preset policy, if it was in fact preset, of only involving chosen candidates from the Republican and Democratic parties.

“There are some serious questions that the organizers and sponsors will not answer. When was this decision to exclude James made, before or after the week that passed in between the invitation and the notification that he was no longer invited? That is what we want to know. That is what voters want to know,” said Mace.

“All we have received, and only through the media, is an explanation that amounts to a young and exciting player being invited to tryouts then being told ‘sorry kid, you don’t have a major league batting average. Go get one then come on back.’ Their reasoning makes no sense whatsoever,” Mace said. “We have not gotten answers from the debate organizers directly on how and when this decision was made.”

The protest/demonstration will be held on September 25 outside Cleary University’s Johnson Center.

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