Off Limits

The Rocky Mountain News apparently didn't have room for third-party candidates in its October 22 voters' guide, but it managed to make some space on Tuesday after the Libertarian Party coughed up a chunk of change for a full-page ad listing the state Libertarian candidates that the Rocky didn't -- all 87 of them -- as well as Harry Browne and Art Olivier, who are running for Prez and Veep. "They made us mad enough that we came up with $6,000 to run an ad in there," says David Bryant, information director for the Libertarian Party of Colorado, "and that's a lot for us."

Actually, the Rocky made a lot of people mad by not printing any information about third-party candidates in its election guide (Off Limits, October 26) -- so mad that about fifty of them, including members of the Libertarian Party, the Natural Law Party, the Green Party and the American Constitution Party, turned out on October 25 for a protest outside the Rocky's building. Even Ron Tupa, a Democratic state representative who is running for Senate, lent his major-party words -- if not his physical presence -- to the minor-party event. "It seems to me to be fundamentally unfair when a newspaper intentionally provides inaccurate information about the number of candidates running for a given office," he wrote in a statement that was read at the rally. "Their intentional exclusion was an injustice and a disservice to the voting public, not to mention 'democracy' itself. That kind of censorship is not only un-American, it is wrong."

Although his rhetoric might seem lofty, it was Tupa who sponsored the 1998 law that makes it easier for minor political parties to get on the Colorado ballot. And as thanks for his altruism, Tupa and his Republican opponent now have two minor-party challengers for the District 18 seat they're seeking -- although you wouldn't know it from reading the Rocky. The paper did send a reporter to cover the protest outside its front doors, according to info director Bryant, but it has yet to run a story, a correction or an apology. "We've heard nothing from them yet," he says.

Also ignoring minor-party candidates was the Interfaith Alliance of Colorado, which this year again promoted its Civility Pledge, an effort to make political candidates accountable for their actions and the actions of those who support them (Off Limits, September 7). Although the IAC didn't publish a voters' guide, it did release the names of those who signed the code (94 out of 168 candidates), those who didn't respond (75) and those who refused to sign (9). The nine uncivil scoundrels? Republicans Lynn Hefley, Keith King, John Witwer, Shawn Mitchell, Lauri Clapp, Nancy Spence, Matt Smith and Ron May and Democrat Al Gagliardi.

Third-party candidates never got a chance to respond, though. How civil is that?


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