Wenzel defends his exclusion of Marking by citing the independent's low marks in the polls. Of course, the only such data available comes from the Republican-run Rasmussen polls... and Republicans have a keen interest in seeing anti-incumbent sentiment focused on their novice GOP darling rather than dividing voters' attention with a real outsider.
Attend to Wenzel's circular reasoning:
I understand if he’s disappointed, but we have to remember that we only get an hour per debate and I think the audience will be better served by hearing what the top candidates — candidates who appear to have an overwhelming lead in the polls over Marking — have to say [Korrie Wenzel, quoted in Tom Lawrence, "Excluded from Debate, Marking Plans Separate Event in Mitchell," Mitchell Daily Republic, 2010.07.23].
Hmmm... could it be that the two "top candidates" are on top mostly because people have already heard a lot from them? Are people really "better served" by hearing from the people they already know? Might they not gain even more benefit by hearing a new voice who doesn't usually get much attention from the media information gatekeepers? Maybe the Corn Palace Festival would do the voters a favor by excluding Herseth Sandlin and Noem and giving Independent Marking a chance to catch up with the "top candidates" who have lots of money to spend on ads in Wenzel's newspaper?
(Oh, oops, sorry—there I go again, slipping into advocacy for affirmative action.)
I'll admit, I'm not wholly convinced Marking deserves a seat at the debate. After all, I've criticized the Constitution Party for whining about having to round up a certain threshold of popular support before being allowed into the statewide political arena. Allowing every fringe candidate a seat at the debate table can make for a messy forum.
But as Marking notes, he did get enough signatures to make the ballot, and as an Independent, he had to get as many signatures as Herseth Sandlin and Noem combined. Marking has already made it through the gate of statute and popular support to make the ballot: should media executives be allowed to erect another gate to keep challengers out?
In the meantime, B. Thomas, add more meat to that Facebook page, fire up a blog, and crank out some more videos!
(And I wonder what other wacky tea-flavored independent candidates the Mitchell Daily Republic might muzzle....)
Bonus Baseball: I notice that on July 14, the Marking for House Facebook page got updated with three photos from a Citizens for Liberty event. One photo features Marking in front of a "Curd for Congress" poster; the other two show R. Blake himself in the frame with B. Thomas. Is this a clever ploy for Curdistas disappointed that Noem stole their thunder? Or is B. Tom just solidifying his support among the ever-important first-initial-only crowd?
Update 13:55 CDT: I still sympathize with Marking, even though he makes the patently absurd claim that Stephanie Herseth represents the far left. B. Tom, I know the far left. I am the far left in South Dakota (which isn't saying much). Stephanie Herseth Sandlin is no far leftist.