As predicted, the FCC cited the First Amendment as one reason for it to stay out of the dispute between Democratic long-shot presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) and CNN, which excluded the candidate from its 1/21/08 debate. Meanwhile, candidates from both parties are lining up to relieve Kucinich of his Congressional duties.
"Cable television operators have wide discretion in choosing programming that is available on a cable system," said the FCC on opening its answer to Kucinich’s emergency complaint. It said that equal time provisions in the Communications Act do not apply to bona fide news coverage of the campaign, and that the debate was in that category. "As a threshold matter, the Commission does not have authority to grant Kucinich’s request that the Commission order CNN to include him in the subject debate." FCC also said that Kucinich failed to demonstrate that CNN abused its discretion or "…intended to further the candidacy of any particular individual," nor that CNN’s entry criteria were unreasonable.
Meanwhile, the Ohio Rep is facing an intramural challenge back home for his seat in Ohio’s 10th District. One of them, Barbara Anne Ferris, actually claims a Cleveland Plain Dealer endorsement from 2006, and accuses Kucinich of a "decade of neglect to the district and deceit to the constituents about his accomplishments." She added that "…he hasn’t really done much besides put his face in front of the camera."
As of 9/30/07, Kucinich had only 3.9K set aside for his Congressional re-election campaign. Ferris, with 12.2K was only in second place among Democrats, behind Rosemary Palmer’s 26.3K. Two other Democrats at the time were sitting on empty bank accounts. On the Republican side, Jason Werner had 16.4K to spend, while James Peter Trakas was running on empty.
RBR/TVBR observation: New numbers should be out soon; presumably many of these candidates have picked up the pace on fund-raising. At any rate, it opens up yet another method by which a race becomes something of a heat-seeker. If your local representative has a habit of mounting quixotic races for national office to the extent that locals find it to be a dereliction of duty, it can lead to unexpected infusions of cash into the political advertising category.