(Project) Vote Smart runs a Web site and a toll-free number that tracks more than 10,000 candidates running for federal and state offices. Along with gathering voluminous data on voting records, speeches and endorsements, the nonprofit conducts an exhaustive survey of the candidates' positions on issues ranging from abortion to welfare.Reading that really pissed me off.
For years, the survey was catching on with incumbents and challengers alike. But lately, the number of candidates taking the survey has dropped dramatically. The reason: Many are afraid their opponents will use the information against them in attack ads.
"We tell our candidates not to do [the survey]," says Rep. Anne Gannon, the Democratic leader pro tempore of the Florida House of Representatives. "It sets them up for a hit piece."
Project Vote Smart (PVS) is a nonpartisan group that was founded by people from both ends of the ideological spectrum, people like George McGovern and Barry Goldwater.
Declining to take the PVS survey deprives the public of important info on candidates' positions. As newspapers shrink in size, more and more Americans are looking for this info online. Snubbing PVS not only deprives voters of critical information, but it does so without shielding a candidate from negative attacks. After all, a candidate's previous votes, speeches, brochures, and appearances at candidate forums provide plenty of fodder for an opponent.
Those who run for public office may feel a certain anxiety over the negative attacks that are likely to be waged by their opponents, but too bad. Seeking public office has never been a comfortable journey in a la-z-boy chair. Nor should it be.
Most candidates can repel or neutralize an opponent's attack if that attack is truly unfair or inaccurate.
Shame on those Florida Democrats and anyone else who has refused to take the survey. You're snubbing both PVS and the voters.