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Testing Oregon CD-1 candidates' political courage

12 December 2011

By Rachel Hartman, Political Courage Test Administrator  

With all of the elections that the Political Courage Test department covers, special elections are a very different "beast," and present a whole new set of challenges. These elections typically are a result of unusual circumstances, scandal, or tragedy, and the special election for Oregon's 1st Congressional district is no exception. 

Although the election for the vacant seat won't take place until January 31st, the events making the election necessary started to unfold this past July with rumors circulating about the capability of Congressman David Wu to carry out his duties as a legislator. Pictures of the Congressman in unusual situations began circulating, and accusations of unwanted sexual advances soon joined the reasons for Wu's resignation.

When Congressman Wu officially resigned office on August 3rd, a full slate of candidates stepped up to the plate to vie for a chance at the newly vacated Congressional seat. As official candidate lists for the election became available,  the PCT department began its work in testing the Political Courage of the candidates in this election. The field of 14 candidates narrowed to 4 after the November 8 primary with Democrat Susan Bonamici, Republican Robert Cornilles, Libertarian James Foster, and Progressive Stephen Reynolds rounding out the field of contenders.  

Oregon also has a relatively new and interesting 'fusion voting' law which rules that candidates can be represented on the ballot by up to three political parties.  Candidate Susan Bonamici won the Independent Party of Oregon Primary (by a vote of 56-31 over Robert Cornilles) which allows her to appear as the nominee for both the Democratic and Independent Parties in Oregon CD-1.  

With just under two weeks left in the testing period for these candidates, we hope that candidates provide their issue positions to the public prior to the deadline on December 21st.  We expect to release the candidates' results  the 1st week of January, which will give voters in Oregon CD-1 a several weeks to review information about their candidates prior to the special election on January 31st. 

About the Political Courage Test: The Political Courage Test is Project Vote Smart’s flagship program, asking all candidates one central question: “Are you willing to tell citizens where you stand on the issues you may face if elected?” Candidates who reply “yes” are asked to address some key issues that are both consistently of top concern to the American people and also likely to come up in the next legislative session. Test questions have been created designed and drafted by more than 200 of the nation’s most prominent political scientists, journalists, and leaders of the major and third political parties. Candidates’ Political Courage is measured by the number of top issues they are willing to address on the test, whether by choosing to support or oppose carefully-researched policy options, or by answering the questions in their own words.  

Project Vote Smart has been made possible by over 100,000 liberal and conservative fellow citizens. No funds are accepted from lobbyists, corporations, unions or others that support or oppose candidates. As a volunteer-based organization, Vote Smart will survive on individual small contributions or not at all. Find out more on how you can become a Vote Smart Member today. 

Related tags: blog, elections, Oregon

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