NY1 Allows “Occupy Candidate” George Martinez On Friday’s TV Debate

How do you run a congressional campaign on a foundation of “getting the money out of politics” when the gatekeepers of media require campaign spending to legitimize your campaign? Thus is the saga of George Martinez, self-proclaimed Occupy candidate, who is running for a seat in the 7th Congressional district against 10-term Democratic Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez, 11-year council member Erik Dilan and Dan O’Connor on June 26.

Much has been written about him, including a front-cover spread on the Village Voice. The stated campaign goal is to “create an open-source, crowd-sourced DIY campaign…We seek to demonstrate a model that you don’t need money to win a race.”

He was previously excluded from NY1’s June 11th debate, presumably because he didn’t have enough money. In a statement from NY1’s Political Director Bob Hardt, “Our longstanding policy at NY1 when we’ve held debates is to give seats to candidates who we consider to be viable…who are on the ballot…[and] getting donations from voters in the district and spending the money on basic campaign expenses.”

Nikia Redhead, Public Relations Manager for NY1 told me in an email on June 11th that “Congressional candidates have to be on the ballot and must have a FEC filing that shows they have raised money.” Martinez filed for FEC status months ago but the monthly monetary report was filed on June 14th. The filing shows $5013 in total contributions and $7800 in operating expenditures.

The lack of corporate donations was an intentional move from Martinez’s campaign. “This decision to not raise significant outside funding for his campaign was a central tenet of Bum Rush The Vote, which aims to create a new template for participation in politics without large sums of money,” said the Martinez campaign in an article on Sparrow Media.

It seems that they showed sufficient proof of campaign donations and FEC filing to NY1. Martinez will be included in tomorrow night’s debate, the rules of which include “No opening or closing statements. Each candidate can ask another 1 question.”

According to a Democracy For NYC email, a recent endorsement vote from DFNYC’s members shows Velasquez and Martinez neck-and-neck:

Daniel O’Connor- 4%
Erik Martin Dilan- 4%
George Martinez- 40%
Nydia Velazquez- 48%
No Endorsement- 4%

Cecily McMillan, Martinez’s Deputy Campaign Manager and long time Occupy activist was encouraged by Martinez’s inclusion in the debate. “It’s little things like this that make the Bum Rush The Vote model so inspiring – when a man wins his voice, not by money or connections, but on his own merit, and through the strength and support of a community. It’s a win against corporate personhood.”

Check out Martinez’s campaign video below:

(Photo: Jed Brandt)