‘Why Am I Not on the Stage?’: Third-party gubernatorial candidate speaks out on exclusion from debates

Princess Blanding, sister of Marcus-David Peters, places a flower on her brother’s memorial on Oct. 17, 2020. Blanding is running as the Liberation Party candidate in the 2021 Virginia gubernatorial election. Photo by Enza Marcy

Selna Shi, Contributing Writer

Third-party candidate Princess Blanding interrupted Republican candidate Glenn Youngkin and Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe in the final gubernatorial debate on Sept. 28. 

“I’m on the ballot. Why am I not on the stage?” Blanding stated. “We have these two rich white men sitting up there and you don’t hear anyone reporting that I am the only Black woman in the history of Virginia to make it on the ballot.”

Blanding is running as a candidate for the Liberation Party, which was formed after the death of her brother, VCU alumnus Marcus-David Peters, according to Blanding’s campaign website.

Peters was killed by a Richmond police officer while experiencing a mental health crisis on Interstate 95.

“Substantive changes that place people above profit, and prioritize community care and safety over politics, can not be implemented under our two-party system,” according to Blanding’s website. 

Blanding has received signatures from all 11 districts to appear on the ballot, according to Ballotpedia. However, Blanding stated she was not invited to the gubernatorial debate stage.

Glenn Youngkin. Photo courtesy of Kate Magee Joyce

Blanding stated that she interrupted the debate to let Virginians know she is an option for governor and the only candidate who will fight to address the needs of the working class and the “Black and brown” communities. 

“I wanted to let Virginians know that their censorship of my candidacy is racist, sexist, oppressive and it is a form of voter suppression,” Blanding stated. “I hope this changes the conversation to get people to think and understand that the two-party system serves itself before the people.” 

The televised debate was cut into commercials after Blanding’s interruption and she was taken out of the facility by security guards, according to Blanding. 

Both Youngkin and McAuliffe watched Blanding on stage as she continued to shout. Blanding was later removed from the audience and the debate continued shortly after. Neither candidate has publicly commented on Blanding’s interruption.

McAuliffe is currently leading in the polls by 49% while Youngkin is polling at 45%. The poll shows 2% of Virginians are voting for a third candidate and 5% are undecided, according to a recent Emerson College Polling from Sept. 13-14.

John Aughenbaugh, a professor in the department of political science, stated in an email that in order for a third-party candidate to win either state or national election, it would require “significant dissatisfaction with both major political parties.”

“Third party candidates need to excel in fundraising, organization, having a base of voters, name recognition and press coverage,” Aughenbaugh stated. “Historically, many voters in the U.S. believe voting for a third party candidate is a wasted vote.”

Terry McAuliffe. Photo courtesy of Michael Davidson

Aughenbaugh, who holds a doctorate in public administration and teaches courses at VCU on U.S. government, said third-party candidates need to overcome more obstacles than candidates from major political parties.

“Blanding’s third party candidacy for the governorship reflects the significant dissatisfaction with both the Democratic and Republican Parties,” Aughenbaugh stated. “She has been polling well and her chances of winning are slight. However, her candidacy is drawing attention to particular issues which major political parties might not be giving suitable attention.”

Blanding stated in an email that she believes she will win the election by going directly to the people, talking, listening and giving them another option for governor. She also mentioned that the difference between her and her opponents is that she doesn’t spend time “slinging mud at each other.”

“Spreading the word about our campaign and going door-to-door to inform people that we can win this election by mobilizing to the polls, to vote early and to tell others to look for my name on the ballot,” Blanding stated.

Virginians can register to vote online or at the Department of Motor Vehicles offices. Registration to vote or change in this upcoming election in November ends on Oct. 12. The last day to apply for an absentee ballot is Oct. 22 and early voting ends on Oct. 30 by 5:00 p.m. 

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply