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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Linn's Podium Now Offstage



Maxlinnorder Florida’s Fourth District Court of Appeal has ruled Max Linn, the hard-charging Reform Party candidate for Florida governor, doesn’t have to be included in Tuesday night’s debate between the Democratic and Republican candidates. (Click on image at left to enlarge.)

The order, handed down shortly after 4 p.m. Tuesday, was a victory for Leadership Florida and other debate sponsors, which had argued that Linn never met the criteria to be included in the debate: at least a 10-percent showing in two independent statewide polls.

Within 30 minutes of the appeal court’s ruling, extra podiums were removed from the debate stage at Nova Southeastern University in Davie, leaving one each for U.S. Rep. Jim Davis, D-Tampa, and Florida Attorney General Charlie Crist, R-St. Petersburg.

Jeff Bartel, chairman of Leadership Florida, was pleased. “We fully respect Mr. Linn’s right to candidacy but we took issue with his right to participate in the debate based on criteria set months ago,” Bartel said.

It was a quick reversal of fortune for Linn, who couldn’t be reached immediately for comment. Late Monday a trial judge in Broward County ordered he be included in the debate calling the 10 percent criteria, “subjective,” and immaterial compared to the public’s right to know a candidates’ position.

But the appeals court reversed that decision, saying a 1998 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court that said an Arkansas public television station could exclude an independent candidate with little popular support as an act of journalistic discretion.

A poll released Tuesday by Alexandria, Va.’s Public Opinion Strategies said Linn, along with two other independent gubernatorial candidates, Richard Paul Dembinsky and Karl Behm, were polling each at less than 1 percent. John Wayne Smith, another independent candidate, polled at 2 percent.
The poll was paid for by Associated Industries of Florida Service Corp.

--Joni James and Alex Leary

[Last modified: Wednesday, September 15, 2010 11:33am]


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