GOP runners for federal office get squirrely; Dems and independents share answers

Dodge, duck, dip, dive, and dodge
By JEFF INGLIS  |  May 30, 2012


This year's candidate questionnaire was little different from past years: We asked a series of Yes/No questions to be published in the paper, and allowed elaboration in as many words as candidates desired to be published online (see below).

But some Republicans found their feathers ruffled. Two actually complained. Republican candidate for Congress Jon Courtney said it most succinctly: "I am afraid that a yes or no answer to these complex questions will not do your readers justice." He even refused to even give long-form answers to any of the questions. Charlie Summers's Senate campaign staff complained that by asking these types of questions we would "pigeonhole" the candidate.

We give Summers credit, though, for engaging with the challenge. You can read his answers in the chart below and online. The rest of the Republican candidates for US Senate did not respond by press time — though all were quite cordial on the phone and promised they would get back to us as quickly as possible.

To their credit, Republican would-be-Congressman Patrick Calder, and all four Democrats seeking to run for US Senate replied quickly and thoroughly. So did independents Angus King and Andrew Ian Dodge, to whom we sent the questions as well, for fairness and comparison's sake. Apparently they, at least, understand why we chose this format: to help our readers evaluate candidates whose duties will include voting — wait for it — Yes or No on extremely complex questions.

To place those succinct votes in context, politicians can make speeches to fellow legislators, to constituents, and to the press — which is why we also gave candidates the option to explain themselves (at great length, if they wished) and include any other information they want to share.

We specifically designed our questionnaire to put candidates in positions they will be in frequently should they win public office. Let's not forget that many Congressional bills include not only one complex issue, but many. If they dislike, or choose not to handle, that pressure when running, it's fair to wonder if these question-averse candidates are ready for prime time.

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