Libertarian Robert Sarvis will not appear in the final candidates’ debate in the Virginia governor’s race, one of the co-sponsors said late Thursday.
Sarvis, who is running as a third-party candidate in the Nov. 5 election, has become a wild card in recent weeks as his rising numbers in public polls appeared to reflect a distaste among voters for either major-party candidate.
Although Sarvis remains unknown among most voters, his appeal has grown sufficiently to suggest that he could affect the outcome in a notably ugly battle between Terry McAuliffe (D) and Ken Cuccinelli II (R)
WDBJ (Channel 7) of Roanoke, which is co-hosting the Oct. 24 forum with Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, said on its Web site that Sarvis did not meet the required threshold of public support as reflected in recent polls before Thursday’s deadline.
As a third-party candidate, Sarvis needed to draw support from at least 10 percent of those surveyed in major independent polls, as tracked by RealClearPolitics.com, over the past three weeks before the debate.
The station said that Sarvis came in at an average of 9 percent and therefore would not qualify under debate rules worked out between the major-party candidates.
Sarvis issued a statement late Thursday criticizing a decision given a “patina of objectivity” but actually “designed to exclude.”
“A decision made two weeks in advance of the debate, an eternity this close to Election Day, based on an average of polls released over a three-week window effectively anchors us to the lower numbers of older polls, even though our numbers continue to rise in every poll,” Sarvis said in the statement. “I am disappointed, but not surprised.”
He added that his campaign, a “breath of fresh air” for Virginians, would carry on.
A Quinnipiac University poll released Thursday showed Sarvis with 8 percent. The poll also showed McAuliffe with an 8 percentage-point lead over Cuccinelli, helped partly by strong opposition to the federal government shutdown. The poll shows McAuliffe at 47 percent, compared with Cuccinelli’s 39 percent among likely voters.