Mike Terry, Deseret News
Libertarian party candidate Andrew McCullough

Upset that he has been excluded from a pair of debates in the Utah Attorney General's race, Libertarian party candidate Andrew McCullough is taking out advertisements protesting the decision.

"I'm mad as hell, actually," he said Monday.

An ad is expected to appear in Tuesday's Daily Utah Chronicle, the student newspaper at the University of Utah, protesting his exclusion from debates last week at the taxpayer-supported Hinckley Institute of Politics and on KUED. Both debates featured incumbent Republican Mark Shurtleff and his challenger, Democrat Jean Welch Hill.

"In the debates, they refer to 'the two major candidates.' If I'm not major, neither is she. Not at 16 percent," McCullough said, referring to Hill's standing in a Deseret News/KSL-TV poll that had her trailing behind Shurtleff, who garnered 61 percent.

Officially, only 4 percent of those surveyed said they would vote for McCullough.

"The Hinckley Institute has had a policy requiring 5 percent of a poll for the last 43 years, and we certainly don't want to change it in the heat of a campaign where it could be seen as benefitting one individual," said Kirk Jowers, the institute's director. "On the other hand, it's always worth reconsidering the criteria to make sure all voices have their moment."

Third-party candidates have been invited to debate, Jowers said, mentioning most recently the last Salt Lake County district attorney's election. A familiar name in the past several attorney general races, McCullough said he is finally starting to get name recognition and donations.

McCullough's first television ad of his campaign will begin running on KCSG in St. George and on YouTube, he said. The candidate is considering taking out TV ads in the Salt Lake City market as well. He recently published an open letter in Q Salt Lake, a newspaper that caters to Utah's gay community, criticizing the advocacy group Equality Utah for not endorsing him.

"This year I have some money and I will be heard," McCullough said.

It still won't likely get him in the door at any more debates between Shurtleff and Hill. McCullough said he has not been invited to attend a conversation with the candidates being broadcast on KSL-TV Oct. 24.

McCullough, who is also Utah's Libertarian party chairman, said this year's race will be his last.

"This is it," he said an interview with the Deseret News. "I don't want to be a chronic candidate."

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