Elections

Third party candidate objects to ETV's decision to keep him out of debate

From right, Marc Beaman and his wife Janet listen to cameraman Todd Oomen as they make a campaign commercial on Monday at Jarvis Creek Park on Hilton Head. Beaman is running as a Constitutional Party candidate against Democrat Rob Miller and Republican Joe Wilson.
From right, Marc Beaman and his wife Janet listen to cameraman Todd Oomen as they make a campaign commercial on Monday at Jarvis Creek Park on Hilton Head. Beaman is running as a Constitutional Party candidate against Democrat Rob Miller and Republican Joe Wilson. Jay Karr/The Island Packet

A Hilton Head Island man is one of two third-party candidates protesting S.C. Educational Television's decision to shut them out of a 2nd Congressional District debate.

Constitutional Party candidate Marc Beamana Palmetto Dunes resident and the founder and president of Construction Associates in Hardeeville, said he's used to being denied coverage from private news outlets that want to cover only Republican Rep. Joe Wilson and his Democratic challenger, Rob Miller.

But the exclusion from ETV's Oct. 24 debate went too far, he said.

"My beef with ETV is that they're a public entity," Beaman said. "I think it's un-American if they're going to arbitrarily say we're going to shut you out of our debate."

Libertarian Eddie McCain -- who also will appear on the ballot in the Nov. 2 general election but not on airwaves Oct. 24 -- isn't happy with his exclusion, either. He said it's ETV's responsibility to inform the public about all the candidates, not just those with the two major parties.

McCain and Beaman said they don't have the money to compete with the Wilson and Miller campaigns, which had more than $1.7 million on hand between them as of June 30, according to the Federal Election Commission. Overall, Wilson had raised more than $4 million and Miller about $2.5 million to that point.

It's not immediately clear how much McCain and Beaman have raised because neither reported campaign contributions to the State Ethics Commission or the Federal Elections Commission, according to ETV communications director Rob Schaller. That doesn't bolster either candidate's argument for inclusion in the debate, he added, since those reports might help ETV gauge voters' interest in them.

McCain said he has spent more than $5,000 on office rent, printing and radio ads, with $2,000 of that coming from unsolicited individual donations. He said he plans to register and file with the FEC, which is required when a candidate's expenditures or contributions received surpass $5,000.

Beaman declined to say how much he has spent on his campaign. He registered with the FEC but has not submitted any reports.

Beaman also does not have a campaign headquarters or staff -- another requirement to appear in the debate -- and neither man was deemed to have aroused enough voter interest, Schaller said.

Candidates are required to attract support of at least 10 percent of voters to be included in a debate, according to ETV's policy. But since no polls exist for the 2nd District, the policy requires a review based on specific criteria.

Schaller said ETV found only two news articles about Beaman and none about McCain and that it does not appear to ETV that either has participated in any community forums.

Beaman, however, pointed to five newspaper articles he linked to on his website and said he spoke to S.C.'s Campaign for Liberty group Sept. 8 in Columbia. He also filmed a speech for Hilton Head Island television station WHHI on Sept. 14.

ETV programming director Tom Posey declined comment.

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