Test Study: Why Are Politicians Afraid To Tell You Where They Stand?

Every election year, political candidates are asked one simple question: “Are you willing to tell the citizens your positions on the issues?”

Most answer “No.”

The Political Courage Test, a survey administered by Project Vote Smart, asks candidates—from presidential hopefuls to your neighborhood representative—to tell the voters where they stand on a range of serious policy options facing the nation.

But candidates fear that the information will become one-stop shopping for opposition research–because it’s happened in the past.

As Nintzel explained a few months ago in a Tucson Weekly article on Project Vote Smart:

…the percentage of politicians willing to complete the survey has been falling in almost every election cycle. In 1996, 72 percent of congressional candidates completed the survey; in 2006, only 48 percent did. Almost three out of four incumbents ignored the request in 2006.

Why the reluctance to take the Political Courage Test? Because the Project Vote Smart survey has become one-stop shopping for campaigns to do opposition research. As a result, political strategists discourage candidates from completing the survey, warning that it could come back to haunt them.

Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who refused to fill out the survey for her 2006 campaign, says she’s concerned that her responses would be used against her.

“I applaud what they do, because they do provide a pretty good scorecard,” Giffords says. “But most often, those scorecards get used against you. … I want to make sure I’m not giving my opponent ammunition to be used against me.”

Giffords has only filled out Continue reading

No Reservations: Will Bee Get Help From NRCC?

Bad news for Republican Tim Bee’s congressional campaign against Democrat Gabrielle Giffords in Congressional District 8: Politico is reporting that the National Republican Congressional Committee has reserved ad time for the first round of television spots–and Bee is not on the rather short list.

From the report: “GOP lawmakers will focus more money and manpower on protecting their own this fall than on chipping away at the Democrats’ majority.”

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has already reserved roughly $700K in advertising time to help Giffords, although they could cancel that buy.

Politico notes that more money could be flowing to neglected campaigns before Election Day:

The NRCC is breaking from tradition somewhat by reserving early airtime; in past election cycles — when Republicans typically outraised Democrats by significant margins — the committee would wait until later in the cycle to maintain an element of surprise.

NRCC Chairman Tom Cole, a veteran campaign operative, has done what he can to stretch a dollar since it became clear that Republicans had lost their fundraising edge.

By making its reservations early, the NRCC tips its hand to surrogates, like Freedom’s Watch, that have more money to spend on the air this fall. That should help the campaign committee spread the financial burden.

House Republicans outraised the DCCC last month — $9.19 million compared with $6 million — for the first time since they lost control of the chamber. But the Democrats still have more than $40 million more in the bank than the Republicans do.

Bee Gets Endorsement From Vets for Freedom

Some good news for Republican Tim Bee’s congressional campaign against Democrat Gabrielle Giffords in Congressional District 8: Bee picked up the endorsement of Vets for Freedom, a political action committee representing Iraq war veterans.

Earlier this month, Giffords announced the formation of Veterans for Giffords and aired a TV ad touting her support for veterans.

Here’s the release from Vets for Freedom:

(Washington DC) As the largest Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans organization in America, Vets for Freedom is proud to announce its support of Tim Bee for the 8th Congressional District in Arizona.  Senator Bee is and always has been a strong supporter of America’s Armed Forces.  As President of the Arizona State Senate, Tim has Continue reading

Giffords New Ad: Energy Independence

Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who is facing Republican Tim Bee in Congressional District 8, has debuted a new ad focusing on energy independence. Just like her first TV ad–and as Bee has done in both of his–she makes no mention of party affiliation.

Bee’s Latest Fundraising Report: $280K

Republican congressional candidate Tim Bee, who is seeking to unseat Democratic incumbent Gabrielle Giffords in Congressional District 8, raised just under $280,000 in the six weeks between July 1 and Aug. 13, according to his latest filing with the FEC.

Bee’s take, which includes some of the money raised by a fundraiser headlined by President George W. Bush, exceeded the amount Giffords for the first time in a reporting period, but not by much. Giffords raised about $230K.

Bee reported $589,887 remaining in the bank at the end of the filing period. Giffords had $2,147,240.

OpenSecrets.org has a breakdown of contributions to both Bee and Giffords through June 30.

Giffords’ Latest Fundraising Report: $230K

Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords reports raising $230,000 over the last six weeks.

As of last week, when this reporting period ended, Giffords had $2,147,240 remaining in the bank for her re-election campaign.

“We were pleased,” says Giffords campaign manager Zach Wineburg, who expects that Republican Tim Bee will report a much higher take as a result of a fundraiser headlined by President George W. Bush.

The Bee campaign has not yet released a report, which is due tomorrow.

Democrats have recently complained that the Bush fundraiser cost local taxpayers more than $99,000 in law-enforcement costs.

OpenSecrets.org has a breakdown of contributions to both Bee and Giffords through June 30.

Here is the press release from Giffords:

TUCSON — Giffords for Congress announced today that 1,235 contributors paved the way for its latest fundraising success: $230,000 in the six weeks.

According to a federal financial disclosure report released today, more than 500 new donors contributed to the campaign to elect Gabrielle Giffords to her second term in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The average contribution from individuals for this reporting period, which includes Continue reading

Giffords Vs. Bee: Where’s the Party?

We’ve noted that Republican Tim Bee, who is hoping to unseat first-term Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, didn’t mention his GOP affiliation in his first two TV spots.

Giffords is likewise downplaying her party affiliation in her first TV spot, which has no mention that she’s a Democrat. Giffords talks about her support for veterans in an effort to inoculate herself against any upcoming attacks that she’s soft on national defense. This ad hit last week as she was rolling out Veterans for Giffords, a group co-chaired by John A. Wickham, a retired four-star general who served as chief of staff for the Army in the Reagan Administration, and Bill Valenzuela, a local businessman who served in the Marines in Korea.

Bee and Giffords have different reasons for wanting to downplay their party affiliation; Bee has to worry that the Republican brand ain’t selling so well this year, while the Giffords team is well aware that Republicans have the voter registration edge. But both sides probably realize that the election will be decided by the moderate middle, so playing to the base isn’t the smart strategy in 2008.


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