A Libertarian Party candidate who earned his way onto the ballot for the 3rd District Congressional race is fighting his exclusion from a televised debate scheduled for Oct. 23.
Michael McDermott of Huntington Station garnered the required 3,500 signatures to earn his way onto the November ballot and the right to face incumbent Rep. Steve Israel and Republican challenger Steve Labate.
"I was verbally invited a month ago and when I hadn't heard anything I called only to find out that News 12 decided to exclude me from the debate because I wasn't a serious party candidate or recognized by the state's (automatic ballot access.)" McDermott wrote his supporters Thursday.
He urged his followers to protest News 12's decision by contacting the show's producer and News 12's General Manager David Kirscher. "I need help to convince the station I should be included," McDermott said.
Neither the producer, Pat Dolan, nor Kirscher, returned a phone call left for both of them at the station for comment. The employee who answered said he was instructed to only take messages.
In an interview with Patch, McDermott said he obtained some 4,200 signatures – thousands more than required of main-party candidates – to allow him to appear on the November ballot. He said he is a serious candidate who has something to say.
"People have the right to hear from a person who ha worked hard for it," McDermott said. "And my ideas are different from those of the two other candidates.
For example, the 59-year-old real estate broker and father of four girls believes the main parties are not talking to each other and said the gridlock feared by the Founding Fathers has taken over Washington.
"We have spent billions building roads and schools in Afghanistan but the Tappan Zee Bridge is falling down," he said.
In fact, there is a fourth candidate on the ballot. He is Constitution Party Candidate Anthony Tolda.
Tolda has also expressed interest in participating in the debate. He could not be immediately reached for comment.
McDermott said News 12 has heard from many of his followers and the station is now "reconsidering" their decision.