Newspaper article

For Candidates, Campaign Season Means Questionnaire Season

Newspaper article

For Candidates, Campaign Season Means Questionnaire Season

Article excerpt

Candidates for public office in Minnesota are often proud of the endorsements they receive from various interest groups.

But they also pay a price for them: Not in promises they're forced to keep, but in the hours required to fill out the surveys that lead to those endorsements, be they from the Minnesota Farm Bureau, the Minnesota Dermatological Society, the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, or one of the other dozens of special interest groups that ask candidates to elaborate their positions via often- extensive questionnaires (like this one from the AARP [PNG]).

The inundation in a candidate's in-box led Barb Sutter, Republican candidate for Minnesota House District 49B, which covers parts of Bloomington and Edina, to send an email to her supporters explaining why she's opting out of some responses.

"I have an inch-thick folder of these questionnaires, ranging from the Soybean Growers to the Minnesota Dermatological Association," she said. "I am completing any questionnaire that deals with an issue that affects the lives and welfare of Minnesotans generally. However, I am not answering questions on topics about which I don't feel competent to comment or that require more time for research than I have at the moment."

Her opponent, DFL state Rep. Paul Rosenthal, says the sheer number of questionnaires can be "overwhelming." He's received "about 30 or 40," and like Sutter, he often gets them from groups with no direct relation to the district.

"Some of them are from groups that I don't come into contact with in my committee assignments," Rosenthal said. "Some of those farm groups, for example. My district doesn't really have any family farms anymore. And if I'm not comfortable or I'm not fluent, I tend to stay away."

The National Federation of Independent Businesses does get a high response rate to its endorsement questionnaire, even though it's five pages long. …

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