Green Party nominee Dr. Margaret Flowers interrupted a debate between Rep. Chris Van Hollen and Del. Kathy Szeliga Wednesday. (WJZ)
The Green Party candidate for Maryland's open Senate seat took the stage at a televised debate on Wednesday and demanded to be included as police escorted her out of the room.
Margaret Flowers, a physician who has sought recognition from debate organizers for months, stood briefly between Democratic nominee Chris Van Hollen and Republican Kathy Szeliga in a University of Baltimore auditorium as her supporters applauded.
"How do you serve democracy or serve the public if I'm excluded?" Flowers asked as university police officers approached and took her by the arm. "This is how you're treating a candidate?"
Debate organizers — which included The Baltimore Sun, WJZ-TV, the University of Baltimore and the Maryland League of Women Voters — had set a 15-percent polling threshold to take part in the debate. Flowers, a 53-year-old Baltimore woman, received 5 percent this month in a Washington Post-University of Maryland poll.
Flowers received attention in March for crashing a debate ahead of the state's April 26 primary election that was sponsored by the Baltimore Jewish Council. She had not been included in that debate, either.
Szeliga and Van Hollen said they would be open to including Flowers, a position both have taken publicly in the past.
The debate was taped before an audience at the University of Baltimore for broadcast at 7 p.m. Wednesday on WJZ-TV. The debate's moderators restarted after the interruptions, suggesting Flowers will not appear on the television broadcast.
Roger E. Hartley, dean of the College of Public Affairs at the University of Baltimore, said he understood the frustration among Green Party supporters about the polling threshold. Such threshholds are common, however, for debates broadcast on television.
"It's a seriously important issue for us to discuss going forward," Hartley said. "But honestly, today, the debate was prepared well in advance and [for] each of the candidates, this was communicated to them well in advance."
Flowers has called for a single-payer health care system, known colloquially as "Medicare for all," and a crackdown on Wall Street.