The Libertarian Party hopeful for the 2nd District U.S. House seat is clamoring for a podium at a planned debate in the race.
“I’m kind of crying foul a little bit,” Joe Ruiz said Friday.
Two debates are scheduled, one sponsored by the Wabash Chamber of Commerce and one in South Bend sponsored by WSBT Radio. Ruiz said he’s been invited to Wabash, along with Republican Jackie Walorski and Democrat Brendan Mullen, but that only the two main party hopefuls have been invited to the WSBT debate.
He contacted a WSBT rep, who told him he wasn’t included in the debate — which would be the only televised encounter — because of the minimal amount of donations he’s received. The Federal Election Commission website indicates that Ruiz hasn’t generated any donations, but Ruiz said he’s actually drummed up a little more than $5,000. He earlier filed a report with the FEC when he had generated around $2,600, but thinks the FEC website continues to list the amount as $0 because at the time he hadn’t achieved $5,000, an agency threshhold.
Walorski generated $1.12 million in donations through June 30 and Mullen had drawn $801,000.
The Libertarian hopeful in the 2010 2nd District contest, Mark Vogel, took part in at least one of the debates that year. Ruiz alluded to that, also noting he has raised more funds than Vogel did.
In a press release Thursday, Ruiz further noted that Vogel got more than 9,000 votes in 2010. Some have cited that tally in explaining Walorski’s narrow loss that year to Democrat Joe Donnelly, the current 2nd District representative.
Is Walorski “hoping to avoid a repeat of this outcome by dodging public debates with ... Ruiz?” said Ruiz’ statement. He echoed that Friday, suggesting, without specifics, that the Walorski camp somehow applied pressured to keep him out of the WSBT debate.
“Make this about ideas — not politics and money,” Ruiz said in Thursday’s statement
Brendon DelToro, Walorski’s campaign manager, deflected any suggestion that her camp played a role in deciding who takes part in the debates. That’s up to debate organizers.
In other campaign news, Walorski announced creation of a coalition of military veterans who back her campaign.
“I am extremely humbled to have your support in this election and vow to continue protecting your benefits in Congress,” Walorski said. More than 35 military backers were on hand, and Walorski plans to visit several veterans organizations in the coming weeks.
“She has always fought in the best interest of all Hoosiers, including veterans, and I know she will do the same thing in Washington,” said Jim Grey, a South Bend U.S. Navy veteran.