First Televised Debate of the 2024 Senate Race Locks Out Major Candidates in Open Primary

LOS ANGELES, CA –   POLITICO, FOX 11 Los Angeles, and USC Dornsife For the Political Future announced that it would lock out candidates that collectively represent 20% of voter support, including Democrat Christina Pascucci and Republican Eric Early, from the first California US Senate debate on January 22, 2024.

The debate will only include four candidates: Democrats Barbara Lee, Katie Porter, and Adam Schiff, and Republican Steve Garvey.  Debate organizers say this decision is based on a recent POLITICO/Morning Consult poll. However, the decision-makers did not release any clear criteria or rationale for their choice ahead of this announcement, much less how the poll was conducted.

By limiting the debate to only four candidates (and assuming, arguendo, the poll has merit), debate organizers are effectively silencing the voices of at least 20% of California voters who, based on the organizers’ purported numbers, support other candidates, including moderate and conservative ones.

POLITICO’s announcement says it all, calling the debate a “clash in Los Angeles […] which pits some of the Democratic Party’s biggest names against each other in one of the nation’s bluest states.” This presupposes a winner from the three Democratic candidates who vote in lockstep with their party.

“This isn’t a debate with the qualified candidates whom voters have chosen, it’s a coronation of Adam Schiff, the leader of California’s left wing Democrats,” said Christina Pascucci. “By excluding serious candidates with durable support, they are failing in their duty to provide civic discussion to the public. That undermines the democratic process.”

The organizers’ questionable “survey” forced respondents to choose a candidate even if they were undecided on who they would support in the race, and unlike other polls nationwide, apparently did not even take into account the number of the candidates’ respective donors, and also failed to take into account California’s “jungle” primary system, which is vastly different from most other states in the nation.  Other polls have reported that up to 40% of California’s voters are undecided. Those voters deserve an opportunity to hear from candidates who quite possibly more accurately represent their values.

“The Media doesn’t have the right to shut out candidates from the first major debate in this critically important race, and manipulate the outcome of the election in the process,” said Eric Early. “The organizers’ proposed ‘debate’ is yet another attack on our democracy, by effectively telling California’s 40% undecided voters in a ‘jungle primary’ whom they should and should not decide on.”