On Sunday, I mentioned that the Utah League of Independent Voters would be organizing an online, Facebook-based debate featuring third party and independent candidates for office in Utah's third congressional district. It turns out I was a bit behind the curve, because the debate was already underway! Indeed, the ground rules for the Utah 3rd Congressional District Online Debate 2010 were set on April 30th. The first rule is likely to ensure an interesting and engaging discussion: "Better than live debates, candidates are not timed! Type as fast or slow as you like!" Thus far two topic threads have been started, one on publicly funded elections, the other on the war on drugs. Upcoming topics are said to include "gay marriage, foreign policy, immigration, taxation, congressional apportionment, veterans affairs, workers rights, Afghanistan & Iraq."
According to Politics1-Utah, there are five declared candidates in this race: incumbent Republican Jason Chaffetz, Democrat Karen Hyer, Douglas Sligting of the Constitution Party, Libertarian Jake Shannon and Independent Joe Puente. Of these five, Shannon and Puente have already joined the debate and, as per an announcement on the Facebook page wall, Sligting has responded favorably to the idea. I sent emails to the Chaffetz and Hyer campaigns to inquire whether they would be participating in the forum. The Chaffetz campaign has not responded, but a representative of the Hyer campaign seemed open to the idea and stated they would be contacting the ULIV to find out more details.
The ULIV has created what looks to be a fascinating experiment in independent political organizing, facilitating debate and discussion and bypassing the mainstream media's duopolist filter by reaching out directly to candidates, voters and outside observers alike. But what about districts 1 and 2?