Illinois Green Party candidate Whitney takes seat at governor debate; in the audience

30 Sep

By Jennifer Schanz

It ain’t easy being Green, Rich Whitney agrees. Take this week’s Illinois gubernatorial debate in Chicago’s Union League Club featuring Bill Brady and Pat Quinn, the Republican and Democratic candidates.

Since Whitney was not invited to participate—though he’ll be on the Nov. 2 ballot as the Green Party’s candidate for governor—he took his seat as an observer amongst Club members and forum guests enjoying their complimentary butter croissants, for an hour of what Whitney supporter and street protestor Steven Walsh refers to as “same old politics.”

Walsh said the pronounced non-partisan forum was, in fact, another ploy to control the vote. “They [ULCC] favor Quinn and don’t want to take votes away,” Walsh said, noting the ethical dilemma and voter disservice behind third party exclusion. “He should be part of this conversation. He’s a viable candidate.”

Refusing to be on the sidelines, Green Party gubernatorial candidate Rich Whitney brings a third party presence with him everywhere he goes, even if he’s not invited. Having not been asked to participate in this debate on grounds that he failed to qualify with enough votes in a recent state poll, a claim he adamantly dismisses, the rebel in green still was at center court.

As promised, Whitney was indeed present for the Breakfast@65 West on Wednesday in which machine-party candidates Quinn and Brady were in the spotlight. Sporting his Green Party pin and passing out flyers to attendees, he set up camp in front of 65 W. Jackson with Walsh and others prior to the debate to protest his party’s exclusion.

“The whole point of a public forum and a debate like this is to give voters an opportunity to hear what candidates have to say about the issues so that they can make an informed choice,” Whitney said. “The action by the ULCC apparently reflects an institutional bias against all but the two corporate-sponsored candidates…”

According to the ULCC, debate invitations were based on the candidates’ achievement of at least 10 percent of total votes in a recent state election, which according to Whitney, he achieved in August when he accumulated 11.5 percent of the votes. The ULCC claimed otherwise.

“He [Whitney] was at 4 percent, and we are requiring 10 percent from a recent state poll,” ULCC media representative Richard Barry said, citing a recent Rasmussen report. Whitney’s campaign however, argues that the Club’s publicly announced qualification criteria included no time frame, but rather simply stated that candidates “who demonstrate support of at least 10 percent in a state-wide poll of voters may also be invited to participate.”

When asked if he was anticipating anything prior to the debate, Whitney responded with “No, we’ve heard it all before, and that’s the shame of it.”

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