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Texas Public Radio Candidate Debate Guidelines

Texas Public Radio considers election debates to be important forums for helping the community make informed decisions.

To determine guidelines for debates, Texas Public Radio believes it is important to establish viewpoint neutral criteria for candidate inclusion. These are rooted in principles of editorial integrity and judgment.

Following are the criteria editorial staff will consider in making decisions about candidate inclusion:

1. A candidate must have met all legal qualifications required by the State of Texas to appear on the ballot and be eligible for office.

2. A candidate must be actively campaigning for election in the jurisdiction he or she is seeking to represent. To meet the definition of an active campaign, a candidate would need to establish a campaign headquarters with a paid and/or volunteer staff; generate public interest, such as being invited to speak at public gatherings and obtaining monetary contributions; and have a campaign that would be sufficiently newsworthy to warrant coverage by the media. In the current digital environment there’s a presumption that the candidate would have an easily accessible website and social media presence. 

3. Polls are often a measure of voter interest. If the debate involves candidates in a race where polling is undertaken, credible, non-partisan polls may be considered.  If a candidate consistently receives a minimum of a 10 percent rating in established, nonpartisan polls, the candidate may be presumed to be newsworthy. Voter interest may also be measured by the percentage of votes cast for a candidate in a previous election, and so a candidate would have had to receive a minimum of 10 percent of votes in a previous election for the same office or a comparable office.

In all cases, Texas Public Radio will require a candidate to meet the legal requirements for eligibility for office imposed by the State of Texas to be included in a debate. For candidates who satisfy this eligibility standard, Texas Public Radio will consider the candidates' campaign activity and established, nonpartisan polling data to make a viewpoint neutral editorial judgment of the candidate's newsworthiness.