Gubernatorial Debates

The Times reported (Sept. 20) that Gov. Pete Wilson refused to participate in a debate with his challenger, Treasurer Kathleen Brown, if questions submitted by voters were to be included in those that were to be asked by reporters. The Wilson spokesman's reason was that voters did not have enough information to formulate questions because people who only vote "don't spend all day every day covering the race."

Actually you need only 60 seconds to master the governor's campaign: 30 seconds for his television commercial on crime and another half-minute for his immigration article. It is unfortunate that Wilson believes that the voters are too dumb to ask an intelligent question. We may be smart enough to vote for a candidate who does not insult us.



* The Times has suggested (editorials, Sept. 13, 21) that the League of Women Voters organize a gubernatorial debate.

We acknowledge those groups that have expended time, effort and resources to secure debates. It is not our intention to displace them. However, the league will immediately step forward as a nonpartisan broker with proposals to resolve the stalemate over format and help make the debates a reality.

The league has been trying to arrange debates in co-sponsorship with other state organizations. Experience has taught us, however, since the league instituted the first gubernatorial debates in 1978, that the traditional dance over details is performed on a constantly shifting floor. Until the candidates agree that their obligation to stand before the public in honest debate is more important than any personal advantage, this can be one more futile exercise.

The public has reason to be cynical about the candidates' motives in the debate over the debates. We urge both candidates to show their leadership qualities and come to an agreement to discuss the issues facing California during statewide televised debates.


League of Women Voters Education Fund


* Since there has yet to be a televised debate between the two gubernatorial candidates, voters may want to take a quarter with them when they go to the polls, just in case they feel like flipping a coin. Both candidates have made being "against crime" and "for education" the cornerstones of their respective campaigns, which is a lot like saying "I'm for goodness and against badness. Please vote for me."


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