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Showing Up is NOT Half the Battle

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I received an e-mail a few days ago that came from Paul Fiorino, and if you don’t know who Paul Fiorino is…well, that was kind of the point of his e-mail. Fiorino was complaining that he was being unfairly ignored in his efforts to run for governor as an Independent candidate (I’m guessing you had no idea he was running for governor, either). His e-mail, titled “Equity in political reporting,” decried the fact that nobody in the media was really paying much attention to him. “The two major parties reap all of the press, be it positive or mostly negative, concerning their candidates,” he wrote. “…this seems rather suspect, and extremely unfair to the voting constituency, and the already registered voters.”

Fiorino thinks that he is entitled to the same news coverage as Bill Ritter, Bob Beauprez and Marc Holtzman.

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He’s wrong.

You hear this complaint every election cycle from different candidates running for office, and it’s complete nonsense. Just because you figured out how to register your name as a candidate doesn’t mean that all of a sudden everybody has to take you seriously. If I sing in a church choir, should I demand that Rolling Stone magazine give me the same media coverage as they give to Sheryl Crow or 50 Cent? No? Why not – we’re all singers, right?

Anybody can fill out paperwork to run for political office, and that’s the way it should be. But that’s where the equality ends, and that’s where it should end; if you can’t do the rest of the work from there, nobody should be obligated to do it for you. Candidates like Ritter, Beauprez and Holtzman are spending 80+ hours a week running for governor, raising money and reaching out to voters. Those efforts give them a real shot at winning in November and earns them our attention (and the media coverage that comes with it). Fiorino isn’t raising any real money, and he’s not criss-crossing the state campaigning and talking to voters. He has every right to do those things, but if he doesn’t, why should we have to pay attention to him anyway?

The lack of media coverage for Fiorino also has nothing to do with his political affiliation. Third party candidates get coverage when they make their campaigns relevant, like Jesse Ventura did when he ran for governor of Minnesota, and candidates from the two major parties are just as likely to be ignored as third party candidates. Take Herb Rubenstein, for example; Rubenstein is one of three Democrats running for congress in congressional district seven. For most of the campaign he has been completely ignored by the press, failing to even get a mention in stories about the other two Democrats – Peggy Lamm and Ed Perlmutter. But Rubenstein kept working, and once he started spending money on campaign materials and showed that he could be a viable candidate (culminating in his ability to collect enough petition signatures to make the primary ballot), the press started including him in the discussion.

I wish Fiorino luck – I really do. He has every right to be on the ballot, and he has every right to run for whatever political office he chooses. But I don’t have to pay attention to him just because he fills out some paperwork at the secretary of state’s office; any boob can do that (and some even go on to win in November).

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It doesn’t matter if you are a Democrat or Republican, Independent or Libertarian – it’s your job to make the public pay attention to you. Nobody should have to do it for you.

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