Centre College announces candidate criteria for 2015 gubernatorial debate
As part of its planning and preparation to host a 2015 Kentucky gubernatorial debate, Centre College has recently completed formal candidate criteria guidelines.
Sponsored by AARP, the Centre debate is scheduled to take place on Tuesday, Oct. 6, from 7 to 8 p.m. on the stage of Newlin Hall. This 1,470-seat auditorium in Centre College’s Norton Center for the Arts is the site of two vice presidential debates, in 2000 and 2012, and a Kentucky gubernatorial debate in 2007 between then-candidate and current Governor Steve Beshear and then-Governor Ernie Fletcher.
In conjunction with media partner WAVE3 News, the debate will be broadcast statewide on television and radio and features anchor Scott Reynolds as moderator.
Because candidate criteria for the two vice presidential debates was established by the non-partisan Commission on Presidential Debates, Centre was not involved in certifying the debate participants.
Centre President John A. Roush is a veteran of three general election debates, including a presidential debate at the University of Richmond in addition to those at Centre, and he felt strongly that criteria needed to be in place for the October gubernatorial debate.
“We take seriously our role as a public servant when hosting debates, and in the absence of established criteria for statewide races in Kentucky, we wanted to devise our own ahead of time based upon best practices,” Roush said.
“We owe this to the citizens of Kentucky who take seriously their right to vote and participate in the democratic process,” he added.
Centre relied on the expertise of its own in-house legal counsel, Jamey Leahey, associate vice president for legal affairs and gift planning, in creating its candidate criteria, along with outside expert legal counsel.
Eric Lycan, a Centre alumnus with a national practice in campaign and election law, provided guidance on the criteria.
The guidelines specify that candidates must meet five criteria.
Besides being a Kentucky resident who is qualified by the Secretary of State as a candidate, he or she must maintain an active campaign website and have made appearances in at least four (4) of the Commonwealth’s U.S. Congressional Districts.
In addition, a candidate must demonstrate at least 15 percent support in professionally conducted public opinion surveys. In the absence of any available surveys, a candidate must have received at least $50,000 in campaign contributions from a source other than personal funds.
At this time, only Democrat Jack Conway and Republican Matt Bevin meet the requirements.
The filing deadline for independent candidates is the second Tuesday in August, which this year falls on Aug. 11. In her role as Kentucky’s secretary of state, Alison Lundergan Grimes is then required to certify all candidate names by Aug. 24. Independent gubernatorial candidates are also required to gather 5,000 signatures, which are subject to challenge.
Candidate criteria has been discussed publicly since early June.
In an editorial titled “A modest proposal for gubernatorial debates,” Centre alumnus John David Dyche suggested six statewide debates, one in each congressional district, 75 minutes in length and devoted to a single topic.
Jeff Hoover (R-Jamestown), another Centre alumnus and the House Republican floor leader, went even further to propose a Kentucky Debate Commission to benefit both candidates and voters.
Crit Luallen, a Centre alumna who serves as the Commonwealth’s lieutenant governor and has been a longtime Kentucky public servant, agrees that the democratic process is only strengthened by such guidelines.
“I’m proud that my alma mater will be hosting this debate,” she said, “and pleased that they have taken the initiative to establish sound criteria.”
The complete candidate criteria guidelines established by Centre College are available here.
by Michael Strysick
July 31, 2015