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Group calls for boycott of secretary of state debate

SACRAMENTO -- The decision by the Sacramento Press Club to exclude from a debate three of the seven candidates for secretary of state led Tuesday to a call by one watchdog group for all contenders to boycott the event.

The protest action was proposed by the nonpartisan Independent Voter Project, headed by former state Sen. Steve Peace and former Assemblyman Jeff Marston.

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The debate scheduled for Wednesday features state Sen. Alex Padilla and former Common Cause director Derek Cressman, both Democrats, as well as former Fair Political Practices Commission Chairman Dan Schnur, running as a "no party preference" candidate, and Republican Pete Peterson, executive director of the Davenport Institute at Pepperdine University.

Those not invited include Green Party candidate David Curtis, who felt unfairly slighted given that a recent Field Poll had him in third place among candidates in terms of voter preference.

"This decision reflects both an ongoing bias in the media against third party candidates, a fundamental lack of understanding of California's nonpartisan primary system, and a level of hubris generally reserved for politicians," Peace and Marston said in a statement. "The club has justified its position by claiming that Mr. Curtis was 'rude.' If so, it is for voters to pass judgment, not the Press Club."

Club President Juliet Williams said the invitations to participants were sent out before the Field Poll results were released.

"As we were discussing the best approach to take, Mr. Curtis began a tirade of insulting and threatening social media posts about our organization," she said in a statement. "Upon receiving a phone call from our program director, Mr. Curtis became belligerent and rude, making a conversation impossible. Our decision was clear, given our intent to hold a civil and informative discussion on the issues in the race."

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