Potts Files Suit
In a lawsuit his aides said was being filed in federal court in Charlottesville today, Potts seeks an injunction to stop the debate, alleging that his First Amendment rights would be violated if the exchange goes forward.
In it, Potts argues that he is a serious candidate because he collected 24,000 signatures to get on the ballot and because of the campaigning he has done since then. He argues that University of Virginia professor Larry Sabato, the moderator of the debate, and Sabato's Center for Politics, the sponsor, are arbitrarily keeping him out.
"Exclusion of Russ Potts from the October 9 debate would cause him ... substantial and irreparable harm," the suit states, according to copies Potts aides gave to the other two campaigns, "in that the best possible opportunity to communicate with and seek the support of the largest possible number of voters would be provided to his opponents and denied to him."
The lawsuit asks the court for a restraining order or preliminary injunction that would keep Sabato and the center from holding any debate that does not include Potts.
Sabato has hired William G. Broaddus, a former Virginia attorney general, and the Richmond law firm McGuire Woods to defend him in the suit. Sabato said he was confident that Potts's lawsuit would fail and that the debate would go on.
That possibility was made more likely Thursday morning when both Kaine and Kilgore agreed to sign a no-use agreement ensuring that snippits of the debate would not end up in campaign commercials. A Kaine aide said Thursday that the Democrat did so "under protest."
"Students submit things to me under protest all the time, so that's ok," Sabato responded. "Looks like we have a debate."
Earlier in the morning, Kaine said Kilgore's insistence on a no-use agreement showed he was "fundamentally opposed to the principle of open government." But he said he caved to the demand to preserve the debate.
"We weren't going to give him any reason to get out of the only statewide televised debate," Kaine said of Kilgore.
In a statement, Kilgore campaign manager Ken Hutcheson said of Kaine: "His attempt at political gamesmanship has been laid bare, just as we look forward to unmasking his failed, liberal record for all Virginians to see on Sunday evening."
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