I just got off the phone with Jim Gambone, who works for CW Twin Cities (the merged UPN/WB station – Channel 23 on the dial). He’s upset that Republican Governor Tim Pawlenty and DFLer Mike Hatch declined his invitation to participate in a forum with younger voters on October 11th at 9 pm.
This isn’t anything new. Independence Party candidate Peter Hutchinson has criticized Pawlenty and Hatch for declining to appear in several debates. Pawlenty has agreed to meet in four more debates between now and election day. Hatch says he won’t show unless Pawlenty is there.
Gambone says the station raised $15,000 from the Minneapolis Foundation to cover the production costs of the forum. Foundation offiicials said they had to return the money if one of the candidates declined. So Gambone went to plan B and raised the money from Target Corporation and a private citizen to make sure the forum is on the air regardless of who shows up (I-P candidate Peter Hutchinson and Green Party candidate Ken Pental agreed to appear).
Well, here’s the kicker: Gambone says he’ll put cardboard cut-outs of any of the candidates who decide not to show up and will pan the cameras to the cut-outs whenever someone mentions their name. He said he was disappointed that Pawlenty and Hatch don’t want to use the free air time to talk with younger voters about the issues (CWTV’s top demographic is the 18-34 age range). The candidates also posted written responses on the station’s website on why it’s important for young people to participate. Gambone said “somebody needs to call them on the carpet for this.”