The Republican campaign tells us that independent Rod Bryan has filed suit in Pulaski Circuit court to force his way into the scheduled gubernatoridal debate tonight between Mike Beebe and Asa Hutchinson.
We think Rod will be as big a loser in court as he will be on election day. The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld the power of public entities to restrict debate participation, in the case of AETN's exclusion of Ralph Forbes from a congressional debate some years back. We would have preferred a four-way debate in this race, particularly to hear from the more learned Green candidate, Jim Lendall. And we think the TV stations that have enabled the two-way debate, by accepting terms dictated by the candidates, haven't done themselves particularly proud. It might even be true that public institutions such as the UA and ASU shouldn't have so readily provided their facilities to a campaign-staged event.
Coulda, woulda, shoulda. We still think it's legal for the UA to host this debate between the only two viable candidates and Rod is just wasting the court's time with an argument that, we also note, could have been made long ago.
UPDATE: Hearing is at 2:30 p.m. Rod's lawyer is Sam Hilburn, who, you might know, is a Republican backer of long standing. He's given A$a $1,000 this year. The thinking, of course, is that any votes Rod might get come out of the Democratic candidate and so some attention to his cause today wouldn't be seen as hurtful to anyone but Beebe. But this is just rank speculation, of course. Everybody, even cranks, are entitled to lawyers. I hope Rod is paying Sam his customary hourly fee.