Debate organizers ask court to dismiss Adrian Wyllie lawsuit

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Organizers of Wednesday night’s Broward County debate between Republican Gov. Rick Scott and Democrat Charlie Crist asked a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit by Libertarian Adrian Wyllie to be included.

Wyllie’s lawsuit, which he filed last week, argues that he should not be excluded from the debate sponsored jointly by the Florida Press Association and Leadership Florida set for Broward College.

Both groups filed a document on Monday asking the U.S. District Court in Fort Lauderdale not to grant Wyllie either a temporary restraining order or preliminary injunction allowing him to take part.

Their claim is that Wyllie did not meet the established threshold of 15 percent support in polling conducted in September.

“Plaintiffs cannot establish, and have not alleged, that the debate partners are excluding Mr. Wyllie from participation in the debate based on his political views,” according to the filing. “The debate partners have selected a threshold and applied it evenly to all candidates, without consideration of a candidate’s party or non-party affiliation.”

Wyllie’s attorneys, in a motion on Friday requesting a temporary restraining order or preliminary injunction, said that the debate sponsors and the college showed bias in reaching a decision.

“As evidenced by polling results,” the motion said, “voters clearly consider Wyllie to be a serious candidate, as do news organizations who have been consistently covering his campaign.”

The filing also noted Wyllie’s “substantial financial support” as well as his significant investment in his campaign and “well-established campaign headquarters,” giving “no doubt” that Wyllie is a serious candidate.

“Wyllie, being a serious candidate for governor and garnering the incredible support he has,” the filing concludes, “all shows that the restrictions preventing his participation in the debate are, in fact, not reasonable.”

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.