The two major party candidates in the North Carolina governor's race competed for votes in a televised debate on WRAL Tuesday night, but one of Duke's own failed to make the cut.
"Our threshold for inclusion in the debate is that a candidate should have 10 percent among likely voters in a WRAL news poll or in another independent poll," said Leesa Moore Craigie, director of news operations and special projects for WRAL. "Currently [Michael Munger] does not meet that threshold and was not invited to participate."
Libertarian candidate Munger, a Duke professor of political science and economics, currently trails Democratic candidate Lt. Gov. Beverly Perdue and Republican candidate and Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory in the race for the state's top post.
The latest PPP poll conducted between Aug. 20 and Aug. 23 shows Perdue with 43 percent of the vote, McCrory with 38 percent and Munger with 4 percent.
Munger, who could not be reached for comment, collected more than 100,000 signatures to have his name included on the ballot as the Libertarian candidate for N.C. governor. He has accepted invitations to three other televised debates before the general election.
"As a media company that affects to care about the public good, WRAL should not make decisions that clearly protect the entrenched interests of the political duopoly that controls this state," he said in an Aug. 28 press release posted on his Web site. Munger's statement also said WRAL invited Republican candidate Bob Orr to a Jan. 17 Gubernatorial primary debate even though Orr failed to reach 10 percent in a poll conducted in that month.
"So, the policy is applied arbitrarily and is simply something concocted to restrict voter access to information," Munger said.
Craigie said Orr was given an invitation because he met the 10 percent threshold in a poll taken before McCrory entered the race. Orr dropped below 10 percent after McCrory's entry. She noted that Munger had declined several alternative offers, including the chance to post a video on WRAL.com.
WRAL has received a high volume of complaints from Munger's supporters, Craigie said.
"A lot of Libertarians know my name-Mr. Munger put a direct link to our feedback form on his Web site," she said. "We felt like we had to respond to all of them, and I gladly did so."
During the debate, the candidates discussed their stances on economic incentives to bring business to North Carolina, lobbying Congress to crack down on illegal immigration and reforming the state's mental health care system.
In addition, McCrory responded to a recent ad released by the Perdue campaign that criticized his support of private school vouchers as taking funding away from public schools.
"Your commercial is misleading and wrong and you ought to pull it," McCrory said "This is the elitism that has taken over our government in North Carolina."
Perdue was asked to respond to an ad released by the Republican Governors Association that claimed she followed the "status quo" of wasteful and corrupt N.C. politics.
Perdue noted, however, she had challenged the status quo by repeatedly running as a female candidate for public office. She added that she would have done some things differently from incumbent Democratic Gov. Mike Easely.
"I'm a different kind of leader. I would have been more hands-on," she said.
President Richard Brodhead's endorsement of a discussion on the drinking age was not echoed by the candidates as both said they were against decreasing the legal age of 21.
"I've been the mom of teenage sons and I understand what goes on. I'm opposed to it." Perdue said.
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