Grand Junction’s Free Press published the following article on January 18, 2010.
Candidates should giddy up and answer our survey
by Linn and Ari Armstrong
Shucks, mayor; you done warmed our Western hearts with your down-home talkin’ and dusty cowboy hat.
While announcing his candidacy for governor, Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper, a.k.a. “Hickenritter” (if you listen to GOP Chair Dick Wadhams), a.k.a. “Hick,” said it’s “Giddy up time in Colorado.” Yippie ki-yay. Now all he needs is a running mate named Tonto.
What we want to know is whether Hickenlooper’s campaign is more Lone Ranger or more Woody from Toy Story. To help us out, the mayor can answer the survey we sent to him the day he announced. We’d be much obliged.
We sent the survey to all the major-party candidates for governor and U.S. Senate. All Colorado candidates are welcome to respond, and answers will be published unedited at FreeColorado.com. We hope voters and other journalists encourage candidates to answer the survey. Voters have a right to know where the candidates stand on the issues. You can find the survey at http://tinyurl.com/cosurvey10.
Before we describe the survey, we offer an important elections announcement [that is now dated]. Tomorrow, January 19, is the final day to affiliate with a party if you wish to be involved in the caucus process. While Hickenlooper scared away his competition, many candidates face preliminary party votes.
To affiliate with a party, first you need to get a Colorado voter registration form, available at http://tinyurl.com/mesavote. You can scan in the form and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org; deliver it in person to 544 Rood Avenue, Suite 301A; or mail it to P.O. Box 20,000, Grand Junction, 81502, postmarked by January 19. We thank the Mesa County Elections office for helping us with this information.
Now back to the survey. We have this crazy idea that elections should be about more than hair color, fancy slogans, and name-calling. We believe that elections should mostly be about the issues. Ideas matter. Where do the candidates stand? What do they believe?
Obviously any survey will reveal only so much about a candidate. For example, our survey doesn’t include questions about the Democratic health bill. Most candidates are already talking about this issue, and we hope they clearly articulate their views on their web pages and elsewhere.
Our survey was more intended to reveal positions that candidates aren’t talking about as much. We want to know whether candidates endorse corporate welfare. We want to know where they stand on key business controls, such as antitrust and Sarbanes-Oxley.
We also want candidates to quit obscuring their views. For example, while Scott McInnis used to be “pro-choice,” he now calls himself “100 percent pro-life.” But what does that mean? Does he want to ban absolutely all abortions? If not, what exceptions would he allow? The matter of abortion (and related issues such as birth control) will be particularly important this election, given a measure may again be on the ballot to define a fertilized egg as a person.
We want to know where candidates stand on immigration issues. Should a guest worker program be expanded? Should the Colorado legislature force businesses to verify with the federal government the legal status of potential employees? Should businesses be fined for failure to do so? Should tax-funded benefits ever be extended to non-citizen immigrants?
What about property rights? Do candidates endorse eminent domain, the forcible taking of private property? Under what circumstances? Do candidates endorse the smoking ban, even for on-stage performances?
Regarding the Bill of Rights, where do candidates stand with respect to free expression and the right to bear arms? For example, should adults with a concealed-carry permit be able to carry a handgun on tax-funded campuses?
Medical marijuana will be a huge issue this legislative session; where do candidates stand on that matter and on marijuana laws generally? What about rules governing petitioners? What about the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights?
Whether you’re Republican, Democrat, unaffiliated, or other, you should care about candidates’ positions. We hope that, in 2010, voters make a stand and demand that candidates state their views clearly, openly, and for the record.
Here’s what you can do to help. Please contact your federal, state, and local candidates and encourage them to answer our survey and explain their views elsewhere. If you’re a Republican, you can find a list of federal and state-wide candidates at http://tinyurl.com/2010gop. We called the Colorado Democrats, and a representative said that hopefully a list of candidates will be made available at ColoradoDems.org. Otherwise you may need to poke around on the internet or call a party office.
Candidates have a responsibility to reveal their views, and voters have a responsibility to critically and fairly evaluate candidates’ positions. It won’t do to take comments out of context or otherwise misrepresent what a candidate is about.
We will get the government we deserve. It’s time for candidates to cowboy up. And it’s time for us voters to earn our spurs.
Update: As of January 24, we’ve received a reply from one candidate running for governor or U.S. Senate: Dan Maes.