Wednesday, July 26, 2000

Incumbents shy away from issues survey

The Associated Press

        COLUMBUS — Most of Ohio's congressional incumbents and their state legislative colleagues have declined to fill out a bipartisan survey and provide possible advertising fodder for their opponents — the survey's sponsor said Tuesday.

        The survey asks the candidates to answer questions about such issues as abortion, gun control, taxes, the environment and educa tion.

        Eight of Ohio's 19 members of Congress completed the survey, while 24 of the 99 members of Ohio's House and just two of 33 state senators filled out the forms, said Project Vote Smart, a nonpartisan voter advocacy group.

        All seats in the U.S. House and the Ohio House are up for election this year, while 16 of 33 state Senate seats are up for grabs. However, the number of those seeking re-election in the General Assembly is affected by term limits, which this year will force dozens of lawmakers from office. Eighteen of 19 U.S. House members are seeking re-election.

        Project Vote Smart follows up the survey mailing with at least three further mailings and up to four phone calls, if the candidate fails to return the survey, spokeswoman Kristina Saleh said.

        “I've heard just about every reason you can possibly think of — everything from "I'm sorry, my septic tank exploded and I didn't have time' to "It's our policy not to answer surveys,'” Ms. Saleh said.

        The surveys are conducted with the help of media organizations.

        Project president Richard Kimball said many candidates say the questions are too complex for a “yes” or “no” answer. But he said this year's survey left room for essay-type answers.


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