As America Laughs, Host Of Wacky Idaho Debate Has No Regrets

May 16, 2014

Idaho Public Television host Melissa Davlin says she doesn’t blame Idaho’s governor for insisting that long-shot candidates Harley Brown and Walt Bayes be invited to participate in this week’s GOP gubernatorial debate.

Melissa Davlin is co-host of Idaho Public Television's "Idaho Reports."
Credit Courtesy Aaron Kunz

Since the debate, comments from the fringe candidates have gone viral. They've been featured in online videos, national political blogs and on national television.

Otter’s insistence that Bayes and Brown be included in the IPTV debate dates back to Otter’s 2000 run for U.S. Congress.

Davlin says debate organizers were made aware of Otter’s request in February. She says they never seriously considered skipping a gubernatorial debate this year because of Otter’s demand. 

“Without him, there wouldn’t have been a debate,” Davlin says. “So we were going to do it. We knew this was a debate we wanted to have.”

What resulted was one of the strangest political debates in recent memory. Still, Davlin says despite the sideshow, it was important that IPTV host the forum.

“We’re the only statewide TV station,” she says. “For most voters in Idaho this is the only exchange between Gov. Otter and Sen. Fulcher they’re going to hear. And that’s really important to us.”

Despite the distractions and colorful comedy Bayes and Brown provided, Davlin feels like the debate did include useful exchanges between Otter and Fulcher. It's also brought her a new group of fans, including former NPR reporter and current Slate podcaster Mike Pesca who dubbed Davlin a "heroic moderator."

Here's the two minute highlight reel of the debate.

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