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Campaign questions you don't hear about

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By Merilee Dannemann

During the political season, while you’re listening to what candidates want to tell you, there’s another form of communication that most of us don’t see. It happens every election season. Maybe it should be more public.
Organizations of every political stripe send questionnaires to candidates for office, asking for their positions on issues of special interest to those organizations.
Some questionnaires are designed to educate the candidates about the organization’s issues. That’s a legitimate reason for a questionnaire. Organizations may use the candidates’ responses to make decisions about campaign contributions, endorsements and other forms of support.
Some questionnaires go further in attempting to pin candidates down to specific positions. The candidate is asked to make a commitment, in writing, to a position that the voters at large never learn about, because the organization has promised it won’t make the answers public. This should concern us.
Candidates are free to choose which questionnaires they will answer. They can (and do) ignore the questionnaires from organizations they disagree with.
Over the years I have had a chance to write a few questions and help candidates answer a few questions. Writing the questions is more fun.


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