An independent Senate candidate in Florida has sued the Federal Communications Commission and news organizations to allow him to participate in debates with Republican incumbent Sen. Marco Rubio and Democratic challenger Rep. Patrick Murphy.
Steven Machat said organizers have unfairly blocked him and other candidates with no party affiliations from the two scheduled debates, the Tampa Bay Times reported.
“We live in a country that’s become a two-headed, one-party system,” Machat said.
As a “proper” candidate — meaning his name will appear on the ballot statewide — Machat argues that he “has every right to be heard and debate the issues with the other candidates,” the newspaper reported.
Machat wants a federal judge to issue an injunction to block any debates that don’t include all of the candidates. In addition to Rubio, Murphy and the Libertarian nominee Paul Stanton, Machat is up against three other candidates with no party affiliation.
However, debates are not government-sanctioned events — they are organized by the candidates and news organizations, and are usually limited to the two major party candidates, the newspaper reported.
Rubio and Murphy are set to debate twice, on Oct. 17 and Oct. 26.
Organizers look to information such as fundraising amounts and poll performance to decide which candidates should be invited to debate. Machat has not been included in any major statewide polls, according to the newspaper.
Machat, who kicked off his campaign in June, has only raised $25,943 so far, the newspaper reported, including $8,000 of his own money.
Still, he said the airwaves belong to the people and that the “people need to hear the message.”