Whether to invite third-party candidates is one of the most difficult election coverage decisions we make. We want to be fair because every candidate has a right to be heard. We must balance this principal with practicality. We do not have the time or space to air every third-party or independent candidate in every race and we do not want to unnecessarily muddle the debate with minor single issue discussions.
To be fair and consistent, candidates are invited to participate based upon guidelines developed by the Debate Advisory Standards Project sponsored by the University of Maryland and funded by the PEW Charitable Trusts.
Since these interviews generally run immediately preceding the election, we use the pre-election criteria which are explained below.
We will include all candidates who:
1) Show a seriousness of purpose AND
2) Demonstrate significant public support.
To demonstrate a Seriousness of Purpose a candidate must be campaigning in a meaningful way and must have more than simply symbolic or trivial intentions.
To demonstrate Significant Public Support a candidate must meet at least one of the following criteria:
• The candidate has received at least 3 campaign contributions of $50 or more per 1000 residents of the constituency. This excludes contributions received from the candidate or his/her immediate family.
• The candidate has in the past been elected to the post he/she is seeking or won at least 30 percent of the vote for the same political office within the last 6 years.
• The candidate is the official nominee of a political party that received at least 10 percent of the vote in the last Texas gubernatorial election or presidential election in Texas, or received at least 15 percent of the vote in a prior election for the office he/she is seeking.
• The candidate, during the previous eight years won his/her party primary election or received votes greater than 10 percent of the total registered voters in the constituency.
• The candidate has received 10 percent or more of the vote in a poll conducted by an experienced, independent pollster with less than a 5 percent margin of error.
We do not expect that everyone will agree with our decision, we hope that everyone can understand and appreciate the difficulty of our position. News 8 will run in-studio interviews with nearly 80 candidates from six Central Texas counties over the course of almost 40 days. It is a daunting task and one that requires difficult choices.
You can find the candidate list on our site. We will also make all of these candidate interviews available on News 8 Austin's video on demand channel 1458, on Time Warner Cable digital cable.
For more information please see the Debate Advisory Standards Project