Easy pickings for Jim Keet. He's announced he won't participate in a candidate forum Tuesday in Fort Smith if a white supremacist write-in candidate for governor will participate. Said Keet:
“I will not participate in the League of Women Voters forum tomorrow if Billy Roper, a write in candidate who spews anti-Semitic hate speech, takes part. While I value the 1st Amendment, I will not help provide a political platform for a white supremacist. For weeks, I have been calling for series of serious debates with Governor Beebe to discuss the challenges and issues that face Arkansas, but I cannot in good conscience help legitimize Roper's candidacy.”
Two thoughts: No point in Keet participating if the only other viable candidate, Gov. Mike Beebe, won't be there. Also, I don't think political forums are obligated to include write-ins. Absent unusual circumstances, they aren't viable candidates, merely distractions. But I wouldn't exclude them on account of their disagreeable politics or refuse as a candidate to participate on that ground.
There are a lot of disagreeable candidates out there. I hate legitimizing the candidacy of many of them, including some Democrats and Republicans, but accept the down side of the First Amendment. It goes without saying that Keet's cheap politicking here will require someone to ask Billy Roper what he thinks about it and guarantee him far more attention than he otherwise would have received. That is presuming he WAS asked to participate in the Fort Smith forum in the first place, a fact unclear from Keet's release.
UPDATE: This is looking more and more like some Keet headline cookery. According to news reports this morning, Roper won't be attending the forum. Gov. Mike Beebe, however, WILL be participating. So maybe Keet, who's been complaining about insufficient joint appearances with the governor, presumably will hie himself over to Fort Smith after all.