Project Vote Smart, a Montana-based nonpartisan group, released results today of its California “Political Courage Test” but contain your anticipation: Half of the state’s congressional candidates refused to answer the questions and two-thirds of legislative candidates declined.
A decade ago, candidates came under considerable political and public pressure to respond to the test. But as fewer and fewer candidates participate, the incentive has rapidly disappeared. The media rarely cover it, either — there’s no news in questions that no one answers.
Today, political consultants consistently advise their clients to stay clear of answering the test on the grounds that it will restrict their campaign messages and serve as fodder for nasty mailers. (It’s a set of questions on a broad range of issues: click here to see the site and the questionnaire.)
Some East Bay candidates did fill it out, though. Here’s a list of the candidates you can look up on Project Vote Smart’s web site and see how they answered the questions:
Congressional District 7: William Callison, Peace and Freedom; Camden McConnell, Libertarian; Roger Petersen, Republican. (Incumbent Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, did not participate.)
Congressional District 9: Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland; Charle Hargrave, Republican; James Eyer, Libertarian
Congressional District 10: Nicholas Gerber, Republican; Eugene Ruyle, Peace and Freedom. (Incumbent Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D-Alamo, did not participate.)
Granted, none of the incumbents in these races will face a viable opponent on Nov. 4.
But in the most contested congressional district in California and one of the top five targeted races in the United State, neither candidate participated including incumbent Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton, and Dean Andal of Stockton. In McNerney’s 2006 campaign, foes used some of his answers in campaign literature.
Among the East Bay legislative candidates, Assembly District 15 candidate Joan Buchanan, a San Ramon Democrat, responded did not respond. (It’s unclear whether or not her Republican opponent, Abram Wilson of San Ramon, responded. His name does not appear in either the “willing” or “unwilling” lists.)
Sen. Tom Torlakson of Antioch, who is running for Assembly District 10, declined to participate as did his Republican challenger, Elizabeth Hansen.
NOTE CORRECTION THIS MORNING: An astute reader found my mistake in the reference to Joan Buchanan. Project Vote Smart sent out a “willing” and “unwilling” to participate list and I was looking at the wrong heading. My apologies. It was, however, a simple error and not a conspiracy.