With the primaries for the U.S. Senate now behind us, I’m starting to hear rumblings about a third candidate in the race — Joe Kennedy. No, he’s not the former congressman. Rather, he’s an independent who says his views “are closely aligned with the Libertarian Party.”
Thus the media’s perpetual dilemma. Do they cover someone who poses absolutely no threat either to Democratic candidate Martha Coakley or Republican Scott Brown? Or do they ignore him and face accusations of bias in favor of the two major parties?
Such matters should be dealt with on a case-by-case basis. Kennedy did have to get 10,000 signatures, just like Coakley and Brown. But the majors had to test themselves in contested primaries. Kennedy, by contrast, automatically won a spot on the ballot. It hardly seems right to put him on an equal footing.
I’d also draw a contrast between Kennedy’s candidacy and those of past longshot candidates who represented actual political parties. In recent years, the Green and Libertarian parties have briefly enjoyed major-party status thanks to the appeal of strong candidates like Jill Stein and Carla Howell, respectively. In situations like those, attention must be paid. But Kennedy is not a third-party candidate; he’s a no-party candidate.
Kennedy deserves some coverage, but certainly not equal coverage. And I’d invite him to the first televised debate. If he registers in subsequent poll results and can raise some money, then he’ll deserve to be taken seriously. If not, then the media shouldn’t be blamed for focusing on candidates who actually have some chance of winning.