Give up? The answer is that none of the candidates listed in Friday's post responded to Project Vote Smart's National Political Awareness Test (NPAT).
Why is this significant? Because Project Vote Smart is based on asking candidates for presidential, congressional, gubernatorial, and state legislative offices one simple question: ''Are you willing to tell citizens your positions on the issues you will most likely face on their behalf?''
In essence, Project Vote Smart is asking candidates to make it easier for voters to make informed decisions on election day by answering the very same questions they're asked (and answer) time and again by interest groups, the media and donors. For instance, here is a link to the answers provided by Democrat Representative George Hanosh of House District 6 who is running against...well the other guy didn't fill out his form so we'll just call him Slacker.
In his form Rep. Hanosh provides information that's easily understood, such as his positions on abortion, education funding and Taxes. The result is that when candidates respond to easy to understand questions, you get easy to understand responses that actually inform you of where the candidates stand on the issues that they will most likely end up voting on when in office.
Here is an example from Rep. Hanosh's survey where he was asked to indicate on a scale of 1-6 the funding levels he would support on the general categories of Higher Ed, K-12, Emergency preparedness, Environment, Health Care, Law Enforcement, Transportation and Highway spending and Welfare.
Now, if you're and advocate for increasing education for K-12 and live in district 6, Hanosh is your man and now you can make an educated vote. On the other hand, however, if you vote for Slacker, all you have to go on is that he's a Republican and you have no idea of where he stands on school funding. Voting for Slacker might not be the best educated vote to cast.
Maybe a better example of an issue that would determine how I might vote in the upcoming election is Representative Hanosh's positions on Campaign Finance and Government Reform matters--because we are dire need of both.
Hmm, well, good information to have. I'm not sure I like where he is on the issues, but at least I know where he stands. After all, wasn't that the big woop about Bush in the closing days of his election? "You might not agree with me, but at least you know where I stand." I found that compelling at the time...sort of.
And that's the point, knowing where our elected officials stand on the issues is reassuring, it shows us where the common ground between us and them is, even if we are of different parties. It lets us prioritize those issues which we care about and which we don't when deciding how we are going to vote. Information like this is our defense against the onslaught of spin we're subjected to in between the weather on the evening news.
Now for the bad news. In 2004, according to Project Vote Smart, only 33 % of New Mexico's candidates provided answers to the NPAT, approximately 20% lower than the national average. In 2006, only 16% of our candidates responded.
Now for the worse news; I have some more candidates whose names need to be entered into the Hall of Shame.
Starting at the Federal Level:
Senator Jeff Bingaman-- probably better for him that we not know where he stands on the issues. Net Neutrality?
1st Congressional District
Neither candidate responded to the NPAT. I guess both are taking the same approach; less is more.
More of what is my question.
2nd Congressional District
Rep. Steve Pearce -- I'd have found a reason to put you in anyway.
3rd Congressional District
Rep. Tom Udall -- disappointed, disappointed, disappointed, but not surprised.
Both candidates deserve to be in the Hall of Shame; Richardson for the way he's not campaigning for Governor and Dendahl for the way he is.
Considering Richardson's national ambitions, you'd think he leap at the opportunity to let people know where he stands on the issues that will likely come before him during his next term in office. The absence of any answers just means there's only one thing I know he'll do if re-elected, run for President.
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