Twitter use lands candidate spot in political debate

"I just sent out one tweet," said Liz Carter, who is white, a Republican and a long shot to win the heavily Democratic district that represents portions of DeKalb, Gwinnett and Rockdale counties.

On Saturday night, Carter said she was told she would not be allowed to participate in a debate hosted by "Newsmakers Live" at the  lounge Vino Libro in southeast Atlanta. Carter claimed on her Facebook page that the producers of the Web site, which planned to run a live video feed of the debate, told her only black candidates would be involved, including Cory Ruth, an African-American running in the GOP primary.

Earlier Wednesday, Maynard Eaton, the moderator, said he was lambasted with negative messages from Massachusetts to California, two of Carter's former states, suggesting racism. Eaton also insisted he and producer Jim Welcome wouldn't be bullied into including Carter. Eaton said the candidate misconstrued what he said and unfairly brought race into the issue. He said the real problem was nobody knew who she was.

"We didn't try to exclude her; we did not know her,"  he said. "It is not her party. It's our party. ... She is trying to break into the party."

Once Carter showed up for the forum, the organizers allowed her to participate. Ruth and Carter were quizzed separately as GOP candidates and were friendly. Former DeKalb CEO Vernon Jones and current DeKalb Commissioner Connie Stokes, the democratic candidates, complimented and criticized each other. Rep. Hank Johnson, the incumbent, did not show up for the debate.

Eaton said the charges of racism were unfair but he joked with Carter in a playful manner. Carter contended that diversity was important, drawing applause.

In the end, the moderator praised Carter's media skills.

"She is good, she is damn good," Eaton said. "She was nobody yesterday. She is somebody today."

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.