An open letter to the IBJ about Indy’s mayoral debate

August 29th is the Indy Chamber’s annual HobNob. At the end of the HobNob is a debate between two of the three candidates for Indianapolis Mayor. The Libertarian Party of Marion County is being excluded from the debate. Our candidate, Douglas McNaughton, is not invited.

The Chamber is not organizing the debate portion. For their part, the Chamber has been great and has invited us to participate in the event, bring friends and candidates, and speak during the HobNob.

The Indianapolis Business Journal is organizing the debate and has decided based on the consensus of the Democrat and Republican candidates, to exclude Mr. McNaughton. According to IBJ Publisher Greg Morris, “It was determined through conversations with the Indy Chamber, IBJ staff and the Merritt and Hogsett campaigns to focus on the Republican and Democratic candidates at this particular debate.” And, “additionally, the votes earned by the Libertarian candidate for Mayor of Indianapolis have not historically been significant enough to impact the outcome of the election.” Of course, it’s more than a little challenging to change the course of history when opportunities are squashed based on no more reason than “this is how it’s always been”.

The IBJ should reconsider their decision.

Libertarian candidates have debated with Republicans and Democrats in Senate, Gubernatorial, and other state and local races for decades. The Libertarian Party is the fastest-growing political party, and one with duly-earned ballot access across Indiana.

This is not a plea for the benefit of our candidates now or in the future — we’ve earned that from voters. A decision to exclude Mr. McNaughton and future candidates amount to an endorsement of candidates, in this case from a newspaper. At best it’s a lazy approach to debate organization. At worst, it is a disservice to voters who deserve every option and fact presented before them in established debates and coverage.

Justin Harter
Chair, Libertarian Party of Marion County

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