We've often written in this space about the importance of voter participation in making our nation's democracy most effective, but lately we've been thinking about the other side in the voting relationship and whether they are doing enough.
Candidates for elected office who are asking for voters' support have an obligation to publicly answer questions on key issues and take part in debates with their opponents. Frequently, though, we're seeing candidates who avoid direct conversations with the news media or voters and duck debates.
A clear example has emerged in a key central New York congressional primary in this year's election cycle. Steve Wells is running against Brandon Williams in a Republican primary for the 22nd Congressional District, a key swing seat that includes Syracuse and Onondaga County.
It's a district in which Democrats have an enrollment edge, but the person who has represented much of the area for the past eight years is a Republican, U.S. Rep. John Katko. The congressman chose not to seek another term, and a key step in deciding who will now represent this moderate district comes next month when both the GOP and the Democrats hold primaries.
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Wells is believed to be more of a moderate in the mold of Katko, but it's hard to know for sure. That's because his campaign has largely avoided answering questions directly about key issues facing this country, most notably his views on abortion and gun control. He also has turned down debate invitations, where he'd clearly be on the spot about those and other issues.
What Wells has done is a raise a lot of money, put together some slick marketing packages and kept his head down hoping to get through a primary. Perhaps he thinks his true stances would hurt him in this phase of the election, but if he goes too far to the right, he'll damage his general election prospects.
But that strategy misses the point of having primaries in our electoral process. Party voters get a chance to decide who best reflects their values and priorities, and then all voters have their say in November. When one party's chosen candidate wins the general election, that may push the other party a little more in the other direction for future years.
The idea is that the voting process itself should lead to candidate fields that give voters strong choices. That process will break down, though, if candidates simply hide from the public and try to rely on their fundraising and marketing as the sole means of getting elected.
We urge everyone running for office at any level to fulfill the responsibility of being open and honest with voters.
The Citizen Editorial board includes president and director of local sales and marketing Michelle Bowers, executive editor Jeremy Boyer and managing editor Mike Dowd.