An early look at Congressional candidate web sites

In 2010, when then-Congressman Harry Teague was running for re-election again Steve Pearce, I checked his campaign web site looking for a position statement  on a certain issue.  I couldn’t get past the front page.  To get into the site, the reader had to sign in and provide an e-mail  address.

What?  A candidate for public office won’t let an undecided voter look at his position statements?

I checked again recently.  The “Harry for Congress 2010” web site is still online, and  you can now click a “skip” button and go to the site without signing in.   The site doesn’t appear to have been updated since the 2010 election.  It looks like a 2010 campaign office frozen in time – but now you can see it.

A suggestion to any 2012 New Mexico Congressional or Senate candidate whose  site won’t let readers get past the “sign up” page:  bag it.  I won’t mention your names just yet.  One site with this gimmick has a “skip this page”  button in very small print but when I skipped it, I found nothing but importunities to like him on Facebook, tweet him on Twitter, and so on. Not a word about what the candidate stands for.

Another suggestion:  no doubt some self-proclaimed political website guru is concocting these creations.  Whoever that is, bag him or her, too.  Don’t spend your supporters’ hard-earned campaign contributions paying idiots.

And if your website genius wants to open your site with a You Tube video, try to set it up so the big black arrow is not positioned in the middle of your face.

The serious question for the voters is what we can find on candidate web sites to help us decide whom to support.  Unlike brochures and yard signs, candidate web sites are still a developing medium.  It’s not clear whether the candidates and the voters are in sync on how to use them.

It’s early days yet, but so far, it appears that the web sites are primarily for voters who are already supporters.  You can click to volunteer, donate, and otherwise sign up.  Some have “events” listings so you can find out when and where the candidate is speaking.

Incumbent Congress members have robust Congressional web sites with plenty of information about the members’ issue positions – much more complete than their campaign sites.  Check out lujan.house.gov; pearce.house.gov; and heinrich.house.gov. With such resources maintained by Congressional staff, it’s hardly surprising that Steve Pearce and Ben Ray Lujan have done little or nothing with their campaign sites so far.  Martin Heinrich, now running for Senate, has done more.  Pearce has an announced opponent, Evelyn Madrid Erhard of Las Cruces, who has no web site as yet.

All the activity so far is coming from the US Senate and First Congressional District candidates, where there are hot primary contests in both major parties.

A few of the sites have a list of issues. The issue statements tend to be in gauzy, consultant-approved language and short on specifics, but they indicate the candidate’s top priorities and reveal something about the candidate’s position.  And there are exceptions where the statements are very specific indeed – including (regrettably, in this writer’s opinion) a few “pledges” where the candidate is locked into an inflexible position.

This year we are seeing lists of endorsements, some handsomely posted with photos and statements.  The endorsements are a guide to “who’s supporting whom” and may be very informative to party insiders.

For hardy voters willing to get an early start, here are the web sites I have found so far:

For U.S. Senate, www.heatherwilson.com; www.sanchezforussenate.com; www.martinheinrich.com; www.hectorbalderas.com.

For the First Congressional District: www.martychavez.com;  janice2012.us;  michellelujangrisham.net;  griegoforcongress.com; and danlewis2012.com.

The not yet updated campaign sites for Pearce and Lujan are peopleforpearce.com and benrlujan.com.

Triple Spaced Again, © New Mexico News Services 2011

 

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