Back in 2008, El Paso County voters elected Richard Wiles sheriff after he prevailed in a jumbled 14-person Democratic primary.
KVIA-TV embraced the challenge of televising a debate involving the entire field. We built an elaborate set and used every microphone in the building. Fortunately, there?s nothing that crazy this election season. But there are still challenges aplenty.
Take Jerome Tilghman, for example.
Tilghman lost a close race for Northeast city representative, and then ran a failed bid for county judge. He?s now after Silvestre Reyes? congressional seat. If he loses, I figure Jerome will set his sights on the presidency!
The 12th of 13 children, a distinguished veteran with sons who graduated from Rice and Notre Dame, Tilghman can certainly meet most any challenge.
Our challenge at ABC-7 is whether or not to include Tilghman and the other two lesser-known Democratic primary candidates, Ben Mendoza and Paul Johnson Jr., in a debate with Reyes and primary rival Beto O?Rourke.
Candidates who don?t have a chance can make a race more interesting, but they take precious time away from legitimate candidates during televised debates.
Tilghman, ever the fearless crusader, has been copying me on his correspondence with the El Paso Times over its coverage of the ?Reyes-O?Rourke? race.
He writes, ?why would the newspaper hold a (sic) editorial board vetting process, inviting me and, I guess the other candidates yet no longer seek our positions on the issues impacting this campaign??
Tilghman says Reyes is the incumbent ?with a bank account north of three quarters of a million dollars.? He adds that O?Rourke?s father-in-law has built a Super Pac to help bankroll Beto?s bid for the 16th Congressional District Seat.
In public debates, the ever-articulate former radio talk show host can hold his own espousing intellectual research-based positions.
The dejected Tilghman concludes, ?My campaign seems to have become part of the clippings that have dropped to the floor, swept up and placed in the recycle bin.?
Well, Jerome, after giving it a lot of thought, KVIA is going to invite you and all of the other Democratic candidates to a debate that will be recorded for two weekend morning newscasts.
As for our higher-profile Sunday night ABC-7 Xtra, it looks like it?s going to be Reyes versus O?Rourke. Jerome, thanks for your participation in our political process. Please set your political sights on more realistic goals. El Paso needs you.