Rallies outside debate support a myriad of parties

Sean Ammerman

Democrats in support of Republican candidate Ken Blackwell rally outside of the WEWS News Channel 5 building yesterday following the gubernatorial debate between Democrat candidate Ted Strickland and Blackwell. GAVIN JACKSON | DAILY KENT STATER

Credit: Jason Hall

Two men dressed in chicken suits stood outside the NewsChannel5 studios waiting for Ken Blackwell and Ted Strickland to start debating.

One chicken was labeled Ken and the other Ted. Police arrested the two protesting poultry for blocking traffic outside yesterday’s gubernatorial debate in Cleveland.

“I was dressed as a chicken, showing how the two main candidates are chicken to debate third party candidates,” Arjen Peirce said.

Inside, democratic candidate Ted Strickland and republican candidate Ken Blackwell were debating education. But outside, Peirce, the son of libertarian candidate Bill Peirce, and others were wondering why the debate included no third-party candidates.

“Democracy demands that these voices be heard,” Bill Peirce said. “In the past if you had minor parties that didn’t actually win the offices; they still got their message out in debates.”

Followers of Green party candidate Bob Fitrakis also showed up for support, but with protests mostly to the theme of election fraud allegations from the 2004 presidential election.

Connie Harris, who came from Columbus with a group of election reform activists supporting Fitrakis, walked around the studio with signs and pamphlets until she was the lone protester left.

“I’m here to help prevent another debacle like the one from the 2006 election,” Harris said. “It’s sinister what went down in the last election.”

Fitrakis was on hand with his supporters making pleading voters to challenge what he calls the “status quo” of the major parties.

“Overall we made our points,” he said. “The key thing is that we weren’t arrested. That’s always a good thing for a third party.”

What the protesters for third party candidates showed in passion, Blackwell and Strickland supporters showed in numbers.

Daniel Cipian led several college republicans from Bowling Green State University to support Blackwell. He said Blackwell supporters are not deterred by recent polls showing Strickland in the lead.

“It’s great to see so many supporters out here giving Ken all the support he can get,” he said. “I don’t put a lot of stock in the polls when there is such a wide margin of error.”

On the other hand, Jan Beeman, who came with a group of Strickland supporters, said she is so frightened by Blackwell she might move if he is elected.

“I’m here to support Ted Strickland and Lee Fisher because it is time to turn Ohio around,” Jan Beeman said. “The republicans that have been in office have taken us down a terrible road.”

Overall, more than 100 supporters were present throughout the day, according to NewsChannel5.

Contact reporting public affairs reporter Sean Ammerman at [email protected].

VIDEO: Ohioans rally in Cleveland

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