Jim Bennett remains optimistic in the face of being excluded from the Utah Debate Commission’s October debate for the congressional candidates in the special election to replace Jason Chaffetz.

“There’s never been a third party candidate in these debates, and I was confident that I’d be the first,” Bennett said. “As it stands, I got closer than anyone else in Utah history, although it’s disappointing to fall short by such a tiny margin.”

That margin – 0.43% – raises some questions about the differences between this year’s poll and those conducted previously.

“In years past, the sample size in these polls has been 400 registered voters,” said Tim Fullmer, Jim Bennett’s campaign manager. “This year, it was just over 600 voters, which reduced the margin of error and gave Jim a higher threshold to cross. While we respect the commission’s decision, we think the discrepancy ought to be enough to get them to reconsider.”

Fullmer noted the unusual nature of the special election. “We had to fight the state to get on the ballot, and Jim has only been an official candidate for just over a month,” Fullmer said. “We’ve essentially just started, and we’re gaining momentum. If this poll had been conducted next week instead of last week, I don’t think there’s any question we’d have made it.”

For his part, Bennett remained upbeat. “This doesn’t change anything about how we’re going to campaign,” he said. “Right now, we have an event on September 19th in Provo where I will be appearing alongside John Curtis and Kathie Allen, and there are two other debates scheduled with all three of us included. There are still plenty of opportunities to reach the voters of Utah, and I look forward to meeting with them.”