BALTIMORE (WJZ/AP) — Rep. Chris Van Hollen and Del. Kathy Szeliga took part in a televised debate that aired on WJZ Wednesday.

It’s sponsored by The Baltimore Sun, the League of Women Voters and the University of Baltimore.

Van Hollen is a seven-term Democrat in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Szeliga, a Republican, is the minority whip in the Maryland House of Delegates.

The candidates weighed in on gun violence, the conflict in Syria, college affordability, women’s rights and other topics.

While both said they do not agree with presidential candidate Donald Trump’s tax plan, Szeliga says she supports Trump’s bid for the White House and Van Hollen called him unfit for office.

Szeliga and Van Hollen are running for the seat opening up due to Sen. Barbara Mikulski’s retirement. Mikulski announced in 2015 that, after 30 years, she would not run for re-election.

Before the debate began Wednesday, Dr. Margaret Flowers, a Green Party candidate got on stage at the University of Baltimore and asked to be included.

She says she has a statewide campaign and couldn’t understand why she wasn’t allowed to participate.

The debate rules state that, in order to debate, a candidate must be polling at least 15 percent.

Both Van Hollen and Szeliga said they would agree to Flowers participating, but she was escorted out by security.

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Comments (7)
  1. The participants agreed to allow her voice to be heard, she has legitimate ballot access, and WJZ has no right to assert the rules. You are NOT SERVING THE PUBLIC INTEREST and deserve revocation of your FCC LICENSE for this outrage. Absolutely despicable. No harm is done by observing the principles of the first amendment, you liberal media pundits!

  2. Tracy S. says:

    Good for her. To be clear, I worked directly with Van Hollen during my time as a legislative aide in the MD General Assembly, think he is a fantastic guy, and will proudly cast a vote for him. But Dr. Flowers has a completely valid argument. The rules state that a candidate must be polling at least 15% to be included in the debate. But it’s a catch-22 because other than the Democratic and Republican candidates, who amongst the voters even knows or hears anything about the other candidates on the ballot to make a decision whether or not to vote for any of them. This is a primary reason why I no longer care to watch debates. Excluding third party candidates perpetuates the status quo that, in my opinion, is a primary reason for low voter turnout. Voters feel they have no choices. They feel their expressed disappointment with the two-party system falls on deaf ears. And it does. If you want the general public to feel reinvigorated by the democratic process, then provide that to them by including the candidates whom have legitimately made it onto the ballet.

  3. June says:

    I applaud Kathy Szeliga who offered the extra podium so that Margaret Flowers could join the debate! Chris Van Hollen just stood there and let her be taken away. He’s a coward.

  4. C Cross says:

    I visited the League of Women Voters MD Facebook page asking for a public comment. I was provided this link and referred to p8

    There are several ways to meet criterion C the first of which is Being nominated by a recognized political party in Maryland. In the event a candidate does not meet this standard the next way to meet criterion C (it’s an OR situation so, if a candidate was nominated by a recognized political party in MD no further conditions must be met under criterion C) is by Having received 10 % of public support in a recognized, nonpartisan statewide public opinion poll.

    I’ve posted a follow-up question asking the League whether Dr Flowers was nominated by a recognized political party in MD, and pointing out that their guide specifies polling at least 10% not 15%.

  5. Looks to me like she was invited by both the other candidates, prior to “interrupting”

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