After being invited, then subsequently uninvited to an all-candidates forum for 42nd district state representative, Libertarian candidate James Lewis is planning a protest outside the debate at Cleary University's Johnson Center on Sept. 25.
Lewis' campaign Facebook page says the protest will be held to inform people that there are more than two candidates in the race, and that a third choice has been silenced by organizers and sponsors through their exclusion of Lewis from the debate.
"My voice silenced today could be your voice silenced tomorrow," Lewis said. "It has to be known that I'm a legitimate candidate, I'm on the ballot, and if you have an open, public debate, I have the right to be there as anybody else."
The forum is being moderated by the Livingston Daily Press & Argus. Executive Editor Rich Perlberg wrote in an editorial that county voters are "best served by a format that only features candidates from the two major parties."
“We will be there to show that this continued and intentional manipulation of the democratic process has to stop," Lewis Campaign Manager Steve Mace said in a press release. "Unlike the debate organizers and sponsors, we will respect voters. There, of course, will be attendees who want to hear what the organizer’s selected candidates have to say, and we will absolutely respect them by not disrupting the debates."
State Rep. Bill Rogers (R) released a statement last week saying he has no control over who participates in candidate forums.
"Candidate forums are a very important way for voters to hear a candidate's stance on issues and I believe they are valuable for all candidates," Rogers said. "I am happy to participate in these forums, debate my opponents on the issues and answer any questions that local residents may have. These are important events and I will not pass up the opportunity to discuss issues with local voters.
"I want to be clear that I do not coordinate these forums, nor have any control over who is asked to participate. I would have no issue debating third-party candidates in any forum and have done so in the past. I have no control over the upcoming debate and am choosing to respect the event organizer's plans for this and all future forums."
For more information on the planned protest, visit the Facebook event page online.