Twenty three candidates for Senate and 3d, 6th, and 8th Congressional District Representative seats have responded to a 13 part questionnaire circulated by MCCRC and Peace Action Montgomery. The questionnaire and links to election pages and candidate questionnaire pages can be found at 2016 Maryland primary election questionnaires; a table of responses linking to individual candidate pages and comments can be viewed at a candidate response table page.
Respondents include Chris Van Hollen, campaigning for the Democratic nomination to run for Senate in November, as well as Jamie Raskin, Joel Rubin, Ana Sol Gutierrez (8th CD Democratic primary candidates), and Margaret Flowers (seeking the Green Party Senate nomination). Republican, Libertarian, unaffiliated candidates and other Green Party candidates responded as well. We thank all participants for their answers.
In addition to “yes” or “no” answers to questions ranging from drone warfare to nuclear weapons and from encryption to police violence, almost all candidates supplied many thoughtful comments elaborating on those answers. We believe the questionnaire will be extremely valuable to many voters, both in learning more about these issues (our questions are footnoted with links to supporting information) and to learn where Maryland candidates stand on each of them.
Prominent non-respondents include the Donna Edwards, Kumar Barve, Will Jawando, Kathleen Matthews, and David Trone campaigns. While most simply never replied, the Kathleen Matthews campaign notified us late last week — nearly three weeks after first receiving the questionnaire — that “given the limited time between now and the primary, and all that we need to do, we’re no longer filling out questionnaires.” The Edwards campaign replied to an early reminder e-mail, but not to subsequent ones.
We find instructive the failure of both Congressman John Delaney (6th CD) — challenged directly in our NSA question — and John Sarbanes (3d CD) to answer our questionnaire. In a state that has seen to it — via the kind of extreme gerrymandering apparent in the Montgomery County map above — that politicians and parties can all but pick their constituents rather than vice versa, it seems telling that incumbents like these two would also choose to duck substantive questions about their views. Are Montgomery County voters’ concerns on foreign policy or civil liberties an afterthought to these Congressmen?
While the candidate survey was incomplete — and it’s possible that nonrespondents have different views — we are very encouraged by the broad, transpartisan support expressed for civil rights and civil liberties principles. For example, 100% of the 22 candidates choosing to answer question 8, “Surveillance of First Amendment protected activities” — whether the candidate would support Congressional investigation of FBI and DHS snooping on Black Lives Matter, environmental, and other nonviolent political movements — responded in the affirmative. Support for the civil liberties or civil rights point of view was similarly high among responding candidates that metadata — historical data about the nature of your communications (to/from/when/where) as opposed to its content — are covered by the Fourth Amendment (96%), for rolling back the NSA’s warrantless surveillance programs (96%), protecting encryption via the ENCRYPT Act (95%), and supporting the End Racial Profiling Act and the Stop Militarization of Police Act (91%). On the other hand, a question asking whether candidates would support increasing the Syrian refugee target number from 10,000 to 100,000 found less agreement (65%).
We’re proud of the questionnaire and its response. We’re also grateful to our friends at Peace Action Montgomery for a wonderful collaboration on a project of great and mutual interest. We hope you’ll take a look.