Getting to know your candidates
by Christie Chisholm, Weekly Alibi, July 13, 2006
We here at the Alibi are a privileged bunch when it comes to politics. Every election cycle, we get to sit down face-to-face with all the candidates running for office (well, almost all—there are usually a select few who decide their time is better spent elsewhere). We get to ask them all the questions we can conjure—and we get a real sense of what someone has (or doesn't have) to offer as a potential representative.
We realize not everyone is so lucky. Although we do our best to write thorough descriptions of all candidates along with our endorsements so you fine people can decide for yourselves who to vote for, there's only so much that comes through on the printed page. Which is why every bit counts. It's also why we've joined forces this year with one of the nation's biggest voter-awareness organizations, Project Vote Smart.
Project Vote Smart works to strip candidates of all their political catch-phrases, jargon and special interest group agendas, and expose them, naked (figuratively speaking, of course), fully to the public—their voting record (if any exists), biographies, issue positions, campaign finances and so on. The nonpartisan group has been performing this valuable service nationwide since 1992. And the data it’s gathered are only a few buttons and an Internet connection away at www.vote-smart.org.
One of the more useful and intriguing parts of Project Vote Smart's effort, and the one we're participating in this election cycle, is the National Political Awareness Test (NPAT), which they send to all state legislature, gubernatorial and U.S. Congress candidates. NPAT questions range from positions on immigration to education to national defense to reproductive health and so on. Due to their often controversial nature, many are questions politicians usually try to avoid in their campaigning to milk both sides of the electorate for votes.
The NPAT test was sent to New Mexico candidates June 28. We’ll let you know when the tests are returned and their results. Whether or not candidates respond will influence our votes this coming November, and we think it should influence yours as well.