NPR logo Coakley Wants Independent Included In Senate Debates

Coakley Wants Independent Included In Senate Debates

Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley, the Democratic nominee for the Senate seat formerly held by the late Ted Kennedy, is now balking at participating in one-on-one debates with her Republican rival, state Sen. Scott Brown. While Brown has accepted invitations to seven debates in the weeks leading up to the Jan. 19 special election, Coakley said she'd rather not participate if the debates don't include Joseph Kennedy, a little-known independent candidate, no relation to the (other) Kennedy family.

The Boston Globe's Matt Viser quotes Coakley as saying, "I think it's going to be very hard for us to participate in a debate where he's not included. ... I think everybody should be included, and I think we're going to hold pretty firm on that.''

Beth Lindstrom, Brown's campaign manager, says Brown will show up no matter who is invited to participate:

Our position is that we'll debate whoever is on the stage. ... Voters will learn there are clear differences between Scott Brown, who wants to lower taxes and control spending, and Martha Coakley, who wants to increase spending and raise taxes.

Why Coakley wants Kennedy included seems clear; he is a libertarian "who could compete with Brown for support from conservative voters."

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But Coakley insists it's more than that:

This is about a very important seat, and voters really should get a chance to see who's on the ballot. As we stand today, we think if there are going to be debates, then the three candidates who voters are going to pick on should be in that debate.

Hogwash, writes Holly Robichaud, who is identified as the "Lone Republican" on the Boston Herald blog site.

The Democrats' no-profile-in-courage Senate nominee wants to include third party candidate, Joe Kennedy, in the upcoming debates. In fact, Martha Coakley has said she won't go if he is not included.

According to Martha, she believes that any one who has qualified for the ballot should be allowed to participate. That sounds like a well thought out answer except for one tiny little fact. Can you guess what it is?

In 2006, Martha Coakley REFUSED to debate her Republican Attorney General opponent who had properly qualified for the ballot.

When she was confronted the other day on the radio about this divergence from her 2006 position, she claimed it was due to this being a different race. Really? Really? Really?

Her past and current positions on debating has nothing to do with promoting democracy or fair play. It is all about what is best for Martha Coakley. Now the question is whether you want her representing Massachusetts in Washington. Clearly, she will only do what is in her own best interest rather than the people of the Commonwealth.

And here's a question on the race, submitted by Joseph Pickerill of Boston:

How soon could Martha Coakley assume her seat in the Senate upon winning the special election on Jan. 19? And yes, I'm assuming the other team have less than a snowball's chance.

I'll address your point about Scott Brown's chances at another time. I called the Massachusetts Secretary of State's office, and was told that the winner of the Jan. 19 election would probably assume her (or his) seat sometime in mid- to late-February. After the 19th, there are 10 days allowed for overseas ballots to arrive. Then cities and towns have another 15 days to report their returns. Then the governor's council certifies the results (they only meeton Wednesdays), and once that happens, the results are certified by the secretary of state.

Until then, interim appointee Paul Kirk (D) will continue to hold the seat.