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Archive for Wednesday, October 18, 2000

Many area candidates refuse to fill out political surveys

October 18, 2000

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Ask a simple question, and you're supposed to get a simple answer.

But ask most area legislative and congressional candidates a simple question, and you may not get an answer at all. Not if you send it bundled in a questionnaire, anyway.

"I seldom fill out questionnaires," said State Rep. Tom Sloan, R-Lawrence, who's running for re-election in the 45th District. "I'd rather people call me or talk to me if they want to know what I think about an issue."

Sloan's opponent also is hesitant about candidate questionnaires.

"It depends on whether it's in my best interest, to be honest," Democrat Nancy Stubbs said.

According to Project Vote Smart, a nonprofit organization that tests candidates' "public integrity" nationwide, most of the area's state and national candidates ignored its questionnaire.

The only two who didn't were State Sen. Anthony Hensley, D-Topeka, and his Republican challenger, Quentin Martin, also of Topeka. Hensley's 19th District includes a small part of western Douglas County.

Of 281 Kansas congressional and legislative candidates, just 97 responded to Project Vote Smart, a spokeswoman said.

"These are fair-minded questions, and there is no right or wrong answer," said Adelaide Elm, one of the group's founding members. "If we can't get the information, then the average citizen isn't going to be able to get it."

Neither of the major party candidates in the Kansas 3rd District congressional race Democrat incumbent Dennis Moore and Republican challenger Phill Kline completed the questionnaire.

Moore responded with a letter saying that while he appreciated what the group was trying to do, he declined to participate because of what happened two years ago. He said his responses to the questionnaire were taken out of context by his opponent, Republican Vince Snowbarger.

"My voting record is widely available to the public, and I have stated issue positions on my Web site and in my campaign literature," Moore wrote. "I believe these provide voters with ample opportunity to learn about my service to the people of Kansas."

Moore, Kline and other candidates find themselves inundated with questionnaires, they said. Kline would need a full-time staff member to answer all the questionnaires he receives, spokesman Chad Bettes said.

Preferences are given to local requests where possible, he said.

"Phill's more than happy to talk about his record and ideas, and he's out in the public doing that every day," Bettes said.

Hensley sees questionnaires differently from his colleagues. He said he tries to respond to every one he gets. The one exception, he said, is a national religious organization he thinks sent him "loaded and biased questions."

"I think it's important that everyone know where I stand," he said.

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