The first question rolled in at 6:27 a.m. Sunday, while I was still in bed:
“Do you reject white supremacy and extremist groups, the Oath Keepers, Proud Boys and Patriot Prayer?”
Well, yes, I do, but I am guessing this question is meant for Joe Kent, the Republican who unseated Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler in the 3rd Congressional District primary.
On Sunday, we asked readers to send in their questions for Kent and his opponent, Democrat Marie Gluesenkamp Perez. Both candidates are new to Southwest Washington politics. We are doing our best to introduce these relative strangers to our readers.
Thus the solicitation of reader questions. As of Thursday, we had received more than 80 responses.
We want to use the questions in a variety of ways. First of all, reporter Lauren Ellenbecker has reached out to both candidates’ campaigns and asked for interviews, where we will try to work some of the questions into the mix. And Lauren is set to be one of the media panelists at a debate between the two candidates sponsored by the League of Women Voters. It is set for 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 15 at the Vancouver Community Library. And finally, we have invited the candidates to a joint interview with The Columbian’s Editorial Board. If they agree, we can use the questions there.
Now, 80 questions are too many for even the most patient of candidates. Luckily, many questions fall into patterns.
- Several of them, like the first one we received, are about a candidate’s alliances. Most of those are directed at Kent, who has received the endorsement of Donald Trump. One or two seem to be directed more toward the Democrat. Lincoln Wolverton, for example, asked whether Congress should have a select committee investigate Hunter Biden.
- Many readers want to know about how the candidates stand on abortion rights, with some specifics. “Would you vote for a federal law limiting abortions to the first 15 weeks of pregnancy?” asks Anne Brock of Brush Prairie.
- Probably the most popular question is a version of this one from Michael Jaffe of Vancouver: “Who do you believe won the 2020 presidential election? If your answer is not Joe Biden, why do you believe that? What is your proof?”
- A lot of readers are also asking a version of a question posed by Debra Di Piazza of Vancouver: “How can we lower the temperature and come together as Washingtonians, so we can find real, lasting solutions to real issues and concerns?” I want to know the answer to that one myself!
- I was surprised how few questions involve federal policies. A couple of readers want to know where the candidates stand on Social Security or Medicare — a pre-primary attack ad criticized Kent — and another reader is concerned that Gluesenkamp Perez seems to have no position on foreign policy. I saw a question about climate change and another about forest management.
Maybe that shouldn’t be too surprising. In an informal poll of Columbian readers I posted Monday, 54 percent of respondents said what matters most to them in this race is “The candidates’ moral character and conservative/liberal views.” Only 28 percent thought candidates’ views on local and regional issues were the most important. The remaining 17 percent said they thought the candidates’ views on national and international issues was most important.
There is still time to submit your question at www.columbian.com/clark-asks. If you don’t use a computer, mail your question to me in care of The Columbian, P.O. Box 180, Vancouver, WA 98666.
After the last two 3rd Congressional District campaigns featured well-known and well-financed candidates, we are all curious as these much more populist campaigns unfold. We’ll do our best to answer the questions.
Craig Brown is The Columbian’s editor. 360-735-4514 or email@example.com