A Las Vegas-based news station is under criticism after scrapping the sole scheduled debate between the Republican gubernatorial election race candidates after a resolution to include a couple of hopefuls annoyed two other contenders.
The final verdict by KLAS-TV Channel 8 to drop off the debate triggered condemnation from businessman Jared Fisher, who condemned fellow candidate Attorney General Adam Laxalt for the immediate cancellation.
“This is real convenient for Adam Laxalt,” said Fisher in a statement. “It is well known by the other governor candidates, the media and voters that Laxalt avoids questions and is very well scripted.”
Laxalt’s election campaign mocked at the conviction that he was behind the postponement of the debate.
“Unfortunately several of the candidates did not meet the minimum criteria for participation,” Laxalt spokesman Andy Matthews said. “Adam still wanted to participate in a debate with the one other candidate who did meet the criteria, but he respects the decision by KLAS to change its format.”
KLAS-TV cancelled the organized debate on Monday, May 28. Alternatively, the Las Vegas news station replace it with 12-minute pre-taped interviews with each gubernatorial candidate broadcasting at 6 p.m. on Tuesday.
KLAS’ statement regarding the cancelled debate:
In an effort to be as inclusive and informative as possible for Nevada voters, 8 News Now is modifying its format of our upcoming Gubernatorial Republican Primary Debate on May 29th.
The change is due to the interpretation by the candidates of the qualifying criteria for the debate.
8 News Now will now produce a one hour candidate forum in which our political team will sit down one on one with four Republican candidates running for governor. The candidates included are Adam Laxalt, Jared Fisher, Dan Schwartz and Dr. Frederick Conquest. Those interviews will air at the same time as the scheduled debate, 6 p.m. on Tuesday.
We appreciate the willingness of candidates to participate and to share their views with us and with voters who will make the critical decision of whom to nominate for governor in the June 12 Primary.
Democratic gubernatorial candidates have had a pair of live debates, one hosted by KLAS-TV Channel 8 and another by KTNV Channel 13 and The Nevada Independent.
The controversy started immediately after the Nexstar Media Group’s station leaders advised governor candidate and State Treasurer Dan Schwartz that he is qualified for the debate. The debate criteria, set by Nexstar, demands candidates to raise at least $50,000 — including 25 percent from sources within the State of Nevada and not from their own pockets. Amongst other criteria, the contenders must exhibit they won at least 10 percent of the vote in previous elections.
Schwartz failed to fulfill the amount needed in the fundraising criteria because much of his campaign funding comes from his pocket, according to Joyce Kotnik, the KLAS’ assistant news director.
“We agreed to waive the fundraising requirements and allow Mr. Schwartz to participate because he met all other criteria,” Kotnik added.
Also invited was candidate Frederick Conquest, a college professor who was also unsuccessful to settle the fundraising criteria but got more than 10 percent of the vote in a statewide election.
That decision purportedly angered Laxalt and Fisher, who did comply with all the criteria.
When asked for comment, Schwartz could not instantly be reached for his opinion. Fisher’s campaign roared the CBS-affiliated television station for depriving voters of “live, instantaneous back-and-forth between the candidates.” — The DistriQ, TheDistriQ.com