Shiva Ayyadurai is running a campaign for U.S. Senate that is high on shock value. Look no further than his signs contrasting his “real Indian” identity with that of incumbent Elizabeth Warren, who is depicted in ceremonial headdress, a poke at her claims of Native American heritage.
Even though Ayyadurai may be running a nontraditional campaign, he has collected enough signatures to certify his name for the ballot as an independent. He thus deserves inclusion in three debates between Warren, a Democrat, and her Republican challenger, state Rep. Geoff Diehl, before the Nov. 6 election.
Warren, former law school professor and consumer advocate, took office after beating former Republican Sen. Scott Brown in 2012. She has since cultivated a national profile as a far-left foil to President Donald Trump, and there are few Americans who don’t believe she’s in the early stages of running for president.
But for now, she’s running for U.S. Senate from Massachusetts. So is Diehl, and so is Ayyadurai. Voters deserve to see all three taking questions and challenging each other in a debate.
The prospect seems unlikely, however, as the election draws near. Warren and Diehl have agreed to three debates, beginning with Friday’s WBZ debate at 8 p.m., to be followed by a debate in western Massachusetts at 7 p.m. on Sunday. As of now, Ayyadurai doesn’t figure to be included in either.
If that doesn’t offend voters’ sense of fairness, it should at least make them wonder why Warren and Diehl are cutting out the independent.
Ayyadurai, an MIT-educated entrepreneur who has never held office, has gone to court to fight his way onto the debate stage. His 85-year-old father told the Washington Times he was camping out at Warren’s office at the JFK Federal Building in Boston in protest, until she “allows my son to speak in the senatorial debate.” None of which seems to be getting him any closer to the debate stage. In that case it’s up to debate sponsors and voters to demand equal treatment.
Party affiliation, or lack thereof, shouldn’t be prerequisite to debate, especially in a state where more than half of all voters don’t declare a party affiliation. When Warren and Diehl face each other, Ayyadurai should be standing next to them.