Lessig teases independent run over debate exclusion
© Getty Images

Harvard law professor Lawrence Lessig is weighing an independent presidential campaign following his exclusion from Tuesday night’s Democratic debate.

“If the Democratic Party is not going to allow me to run in the Democratic primary, then it strengthens the argument of many people who have said from the very beginning that this is the kind of campaign that should be run as an Independent,” he said, according to National Journal.

ADVERTISEMENT
“I want to emphasize my strong desire going in is still not to be in this race as an Independent,” Lessig continued. "This [Campaign finance reform] is an issue that should be framed inside the Democratic primary.

“My only point is, if I’m cut out of the Democratic primary, then I’m kind of forced into this position,” he added. 

Lessig unsuccessfully lobbied the Democratic National Committee for a spot in Tuesday evening’s presidential debate airing live from Las Vegas on CNN.

He argued on Tuesday that his absence is unfair given that his national poll numbers mirror those earned by some of the other candidates.

“I have a more serious campaign than at least two of the people who will be on that stage, and under that principle, I should be included,” Lessig said, referencing former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee and former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb.

Chafee and Webb each received at least 1 percent in three qualifying polls, as stipulated by CNN. Lessig has not received 1 percent in any poll, including two surveys taken over the last few days, where he did not register any support.

Lessig has repeatedly argued that formally launching his campaign last month has hindered him from gaining the necessary voter recognition for CNN’s 1 percent minimum across three acceptable surveys.

The Harvard law professor then charged on Tuesday that an independent candidacy might better serve his long odds at winning the White House next year.

“The most important advantage is that part of the base I need to rally is a base [of voters] that has recognized the failure of the current way this political system is working,” Lessig said. "That group is in some ways the independent group.”

Lessig added that his final decision hinges on whether he is included in the second Democratic presidential debate on Nov. 14 in Des Moines, Iowa.

“I’m optimistic that we can build a recognition of why it’s important that these early debates include a wide range of participants,” he said.

“If I’m still excluded from the Democratic debates, there’s a chance I might [run as an independent] and there’s a chance I wouldn’t," Lessig added.

“This is all up in the air still. That’s all I can say. It’s not decided.”