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The Voter’s Speakeasy featuring unbiased reporting and insight into life at Project Vote Smart from our staff, interns, and volunteers.

Oregon major party candidates lacking political courage

2012 January 09

GREAT DIVIDE RANCH, MT., January 9, 2012 – Project Vote Smart released the 2012 Political Courage Test results today for Oregon's special election showing neither major party congressional candidate running for the state's 1st Congressional District seat was willing to answer even the most basic issue-related questions addressed inside the Test.

Among candidates Suzanne Bonamici Robert Cornilles,  James Foster, and Steven Reynolds, and following repetitious requests by mail, fax, and e-mail including contacts from key leaders of their own parties, only Libertarian candidate Foster and Progressive candidate Reynolds submitted the Test.

For two decades, the Political Courage Test has asked all candidates one central question: “Are you willing to tell citizens your positions on the issues you will most likely face if elected?” Candidates who reply “yes” to that question are presented with several issue categories in which they are asked to indicate support for given principles, or reply using their own language entirely

Oregon candidates' unwillingness to provide voters with their issue positions is part of a growing national trend among candidates, as Test response rates have steadily fallen from a high of seventy-two percent (72%) in 1996, to an all-time low of thirty-eight percent (38%) in 2010. Project Vote Smart has found that party leaders and consultants from both major parties advise candidates not to respond to the Test for two primary reasons: it will limit the candidates’ ability to control their campaign messages and it will expose them to opposition research.

“When candidates decide to hide behind talking points and manipulative ...

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