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Tired campaign data

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Candidates’ websites are outdated

By Merilee Dannemann

In 2010, when then U.S. Rep. Harry Teague was running for re-election against Steve Pearce, I checked his campaign website, looking for a position statement on a certain issue.
I couldn’t get past the front page. To get into the site, the reader had to sign in and provide an e-mail address.
What? A candidate for public office won’t let an undecided voter look at his position statements?
I checked again recently.  The “Harry for Congress 2010” website is still online, and you can now click a “skip” button and go to the site without signing in.
The site doesn’t appear to have been updated since the 2010 election. It looks like a 2010 campaign office frozen in time – but now you can see it.
A suggestion to any 2012 New Mexico candidate for the U.S. House or Senate whose site won’t let readers get past the “sign up” page:  bag it.
I won’t mention your names just yet. One site with this gimmick has a “skip this page”  button in very small print, but when I skipped it, I found nothing but opportunities to like him on Facebook, tweet him on Twitter and so on.
Not a word about what the candidate stands for.  
And if your website genius wants to open your site with a YouTube video, try to set it up so the big black arrow is not positioned in the middle of your face.
Another suggestion: No doubt, some self-proclaimed political website guru is concocting these creations. Whoever that is, bag him or her, too.
Don’t spend your supporters’ hard-earned campaign contributions paying idiots.
The serious question for the voters is, what can we find on candidate websites to help us decide whom to support?  
Unlike brochures and yard signs, candidate websites are still a developing medium. It’s not clear whether the candidates and the voters are in sync on how to use them.  
It’s early yet, but so far, it appears that the websites are primarily for voters who are already supporters.
You can click to volunteer, donate and otherwise sign up. Some have event listings so you can find out when and where the candidate is speaking.
Incumbent congressional members have robust congressional websites with plenty of information about the members’ issue positions – much more complete than their campaign sites.
Check out lujan.house.gov; pearce.house.gov; and heinrich.house.gov.
With such resources maintained by congressional staff, it’s hardly surprising that Steve Pearce and Ben Ray Lujan have done little or nothing with their campaign sites so far.
Martin Heinrich, now running for the U.S. Senate, has done more.
Pearce has an announced opponent, Evelyn Madrid Erhard of Las Cruces, who has no website as yet.
All the activity so far is coming from the U.S. Senate and First Congressional District candidates, where there are hot primary contests in both major parties.
A few of the sites have a list of issues.
The issue statements tend to be in gauzy, consultant-approved language and short on specifics, but they indicate the candidate’s top priorities and reveal something about the candidate’s position.
And there are exceptions where the statements are very specific indeed – including (regrettably, in my opinion) a few “pledges” where the candidate is locked into an inflexible position.
This year we are seeing lists of endorsements, some handsomely posted with photos and statements.
The endorsements are a guide to “who’s supporting whom” and may be very informative to party insiders.
For hardy voters willing to get an early start, here are the websites I have found so far:
For U.S. Senate, www.heatherwilson.com; www.sanchezforussenate.com;
www.martinheinrich.com; www.hectorbalderas.com. For the First Congressional District: www.martychavez.com; janice2012.us;  michellelujangrisham.net;  griegoforcongress.com; and danlewis2012.com. The not-yet-updated campaign sites for Pearce and Lujan are peopleforpearce.com and benrlujan.com.

Merilee Dannemann
© New Mexico
News Service 2011