The debate was partially sponsored by AARP-West Virginia, and after getting no response from state offices, Mountain Party Chairwoman Charlotte Pritt e-mailed national AARP officers, calling on them to intervene on Johnson's behalf.
Pritt said it was inexcusable on AARP's part not to demand that all candidates be allowed to participate, since two key missions of AARP are voter education and preventing consumer fraud.
In protest, Pritt said she is going to cancel her membership and demand a refund of all AARP dues she has paid, with interest.
(A card-burning rally was probably out of the question, since AARP cards would melt, not burn, and knowing AARP, the replacement cards would be in the mail the next day.)
As for the debate itself, if Bill Maloney needs an 8- to 10-point bounce in the polls, he didn't get it Tuesday. Most viewers I talked to thought Maloney came off as angry, snide and bullying, without much substance, while Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, though clearly on the defensive, showed a more thorough understanding of policy matters and issues facing the state.
(One reader noted that, when Maloney attacked on money wasted to buy high-end Internet routers, Tomblin should have pointed out that happened under Joe Manchin's watch, and then segued to say the real point is that all counties will have high-speed broadband access by early next year.)
Finally, the quote of the week, from Ryan at the end of the debate: "I think we're all glad that's over with."
(Ryan's audio inadvertently aired after the screen had gone black, one of several technical glitches in the telecast.)
In trying to cover the debate, I hadn't given much thought to the quality of the telecast, until a reader called, saying he was surprised that it was so poor, given that it was a showcase event for state broadcasters.
Reach Phil Kabler at ph...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1220.