Ballot Access News reports:
On July 16, the Federal Election Commission voted 4-2 to reject the request for a new rule concerning general election presidential debates. The two commissioners who voted in favor of considering a better rule are Ann Ravel and Ellen Weintraub, both Democrats. It is believed this is the first time any FEC Commissioner has voted to do something about the problem that the Commission on Presidential Debates excludes candidates who are not Republican or Democratic nominees.
And, in a separate post at BAN:
Former U.S. Senator Joseph Lieberman here criticizes the Commission on Presidential Debates for its rules on who can participate in the debate. Although there has been a lot of criticism of the CPD, Lieberman makes some original and thoughtful points. Lieberman’s article appears in U.S. News & World Report.
Lieberman is the first person who has ever actually appeared in a Commission on Presidential Debates event who has since criticized the exclusionary rules. As the Democratic vice-presidential nominee in 2000, he debated Dick Cheney in the CPD vice-presidential debate. Thanks to IVN for the link.
According to wikipedia:
During his re-election bid in 2006, (Lieberman -p) lost the Democratic Party primary election but won re-election in the general election as a third party candidate under the “Connecticut for Lieberman” party label. Lieberman himself was never a member of that party, but instead remained a registered Democrat while he ran.
Lieberman was officially listed in Senate records for the 110th and 111th Congresses as an “Independent Democrat” and sat as part of the Senate Democratic Caucus. But after his speech at the 2008 Republican National Convention in which he endorsed John McCain for president, Lieberman no longer attended Democratic Caucus leadership strategy meetings or policy lunches. On November 5, 2008, Lieberman met with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to discuss his future role with the Democratic Party. Ultimately, the Senate Democratic Caucus voted to allow Lieberman to keep chairmanship of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. Subsequently, Lieberman announced that he would continue to caucus with the Democrats.
These cracks in the CPD are coming at the same time as one lawsuit by Level the Playing Field aka Change the Rule (with many of the same people that were involved in Americans Elect) has already been filed, and a second lawsuit is being planned. The Libertarian and Green parties are backing both lawsuits, along with their 2012 presidential nominees, Gary Johnson and Jill Stein, both of whom may well be their 2016 nominees as well (Stein has already started campaigning for her party’s nomination, and it is widely believed that Johnson will announce as well).
Also at the same time, Donald Trump, who is currently leading the polls for the Republican nomination, continues to openly speculate that he may switch to running outside the establishment parties in the general election. Trump has previously flirted with independent and Reform Party runs in past years. Over on the Democratic side, Bernie Sanders, another Independent Senator who has caucused with the Democrats and previously run with the Liberty Union socialist party in Vermont, appears to be the strongest challenger to frontrunner Hillary Clinton. Unlike Trump, Sanders has not openly said that he will consider running outside the duopoly if he doesn’t receive the establishment party nomination, but speculation continues that he may. Before Trump and Sanders announced as candidates for the Democratic and Republican nominations there was widespread speculation that they might run as independents or alternative party candidates.
Regardless of whether Trump and/or Sanders actually run outside the duopoly, or whether the lawsuits against the CPD succeed or not, it looks likely that the issue will get a lot more attention in the coming election cycle than it has in the past.