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Candidate Pop Quiz

The good, the bad and the absent

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In politics, as in elementary schools, a pop quiz is something born out of equal parts desire-to-test-knowledge and suspicion-that-the-testee-has-not-been-doing-his-or-her-homework. George W. Bush failed altogether when spontaneously called upon by a Boston reporter in 1999 to name the leaders of Chechnya, Taiwan, India and Pakistan; since then, the pop quiz has become an accepted election-time practice for alternative media nationwide--as has the defense that "we're politicians, not bloody Jeopardy contestants!" The questions in such quizzes encompass everything from pure fact recollection to off-the-cuff issue discussion to personal trivia--indeed, the only unifying characteristic is that candidates often bristle at being asked to participate, have trouble understanding the questions or answering them, and experience an abnormally high degree of phone malfunctions.

Whether these phenomena indicate that politicians have become overly comfy atop their piles of prepared statements and press releases, or whether it is merely a mean-spirited attempt by subversive media to embarrass a few baby-kissers is for you to decide. In either case, our questions to Idaho's congressional candidates and to the candidates in the four tightest local State Legislature races were intended to be short, sweet and (mostly) about issues that should be at the forefront of Idaho politics in the coming years. More often than not they produced a commentary about candidates that a rehearsed speech about their pet issues simply could not--including a distressingly high degree of "write about me on my own terms or buzz off, newsie."

1. How many Idahoans are living below the federally designated poverty line?

(Answer: Approximately 11 percent, according to census numbers from 2001 to 2003)

2. Gay marriage: legalize it, civil union, or none of the above?

3. What is the Idaho state educational budget, and how much of it comes from federal funding? (Answer: For fiscal year 2004: total budget $1,152,600,000, approximately $154 million, or 13 percent, of which is federally funded).

4. How many Idahoans have been killed in Iraq? (Answer: Nine)

5. If the election were decided by a talent show, what would your talent be?

Mike Crapo, Republican

Senator Crapo's press secretary would not return repeated phone messages from BW, so the Senator was unable to take the quiz before press time.

1. No answer.

2. No answer.

3. No answer.

4. No answer.

5. No answer.

For more information on Senator Crapo, visit CrapoforSenate.com

NOTE: Idaho did not field a candidate to run against Sen. Crapo, therefore he is unopposed, although Scott McClure is a write-in candidate.

Mike Simpson, Republican

Congressman Simpson's press secretary would not return repeated phone messages from BW, so the Congressman was unable to take the quiz before press time.

1. No answer.

2. No answer.

3. No answer.

4. No answer.

5. No answer.

For more information on Congressman Simpson, visit house.gov/simpson.

Lin Whitworth, Democrat

1. Oh, about 11 percent.

2. Legalize it. It's already legal, isn't it? I mean, I don't care if they marry. I have no problem with it. It's something they can't help, and we've got to be accepted in society as we are. Whether you call it a gay marriage or a civil union--whatever fits their needs is fine with me.

3. Seventeen percent, I think, comes from the federal government. And last year, it was... oh, 75 or a hundred million ... I think I'm a few zeros off. It's closer to 750 million, isn't it? That's good enough.

4. How many have died overseas? Over 1,200.

5. If the audience was common, ordinary middle-class working people, I would win. If it was an audience of the owners and the stockholders and corporate America, I would lose. I'd explain to them why they need someone that represents them, the majority of the people, instead of corporate America.

For more information on Lin Whitworth, visit linwhitworth.com.

C.L. "Butch" Otter, Republican

Congressman Otter's press secretary informed BW that unless we were willing to send all questions via e-mail to the Congressman several days before speaking with him, he would politely decline to participate. We didn't, and he did.

1. No answer.

2. No answer.

3. No answer.

4. No answer.

5. No answer.

For more information on Congressman Otter, visit house.gov/otter.

Naomi Preston, Democrat

1. [Silence] Oh, I thought you were going to ask questions about the issues ... [Long pause]. Well, I would say "too many."

2. Civil union.

3. I don't know the answer to that. [Angrily] You know what? This is ... oh, go ahead.

4. [Long pause] You know what, I'm not going to ... what's the purpose of this?

5. [Sarcastic] What would my talent be? [Very long silence] You know, I take all my answers back. I don't think this is a way to contrast candidates. I'm not going to answer your study.

For more information on Naomi Preston, visit prestonforidaho.com.

1. Gay marriage: legalize it, civil union, or none of the above?

2. When the penny sales tax expires in 2005, how will we make up the lost revenue?

3. What state legislation has had the most significant impact on Idaho in the last five years?

4. If the election were decided by a talent show, what would your talent be?

Jana Kemp, Republican

1. Civil union. [Adds, after answering the other questions] I don't really think that is a state law issue. I think it is between people and their families and their religious faiths and that's that.

2. That's not a yes or no question! [Pauses] Okay: By creating more jobs that are sustainable, across the state of Idaho.

3. There hasn't been one single piece of legislation, it is the collective set of bills that ends up affecting Idaho.

4. [Laughs] Reading a poem that I had personally written, with a slideshow of Idaho landscape photographs that I had personally taken. That's real.

For more information on Jana Kemp, visit jankemp.com.

Gino White, Democrat

1. I would say none of the above. (Changed it to civil union after answering the other questions).

2. Hopefully the economy will give us the additional revenue.

3. The reverse appropriation done by the 2002 session. The budget cuts for the 2002 session.

4. Boy, that's a tough one. I suppose oratory, on government policy.

For more information on Gino White, visit adademocrats.org.

Heather Anne Cunningham, Republican

1. It's a federal question, that's the problem. [Long pause] ... those are the only options, huh? Hard one for me, as a lawyer, because anything we do as a state gets overturned, so eventually it will be a federal thing. Civil union.

2. Number one, our projected revenues are greater than anticipated. Number two, we will continue to increase those revenues, because we are climbing out of the recession. And number three is to encourage economic growth.

3. [Long pause] Well that's a stumper. There are social issues, economic issues, all kinds of ... I want to say 'Cuts to higher education,' but that's not necessarily statewide. I'm going to say charter school legislation, because that certainly has had a significant statewide impact in the last five years.

4. Creative writing. That's too easy.

For more information on Heather Anne Cunningham, visit cunninghamforsenate.com.

Elliot Werk, Democrat

Senator Werk politely declined to participate in the pop quiz, stating that he preferred to discuss the "real issues" of Idaho politics.

1. No answer.

2. No answer.

3. No answer

4. No answer.

For more information on Elliot Werk, visit werkforsenate.org.

Kathy Garrett, Republican

1. At this point I'd say none of the above, because I'd have to see what 'civil union' means. Not knowing what that means, it would have to be none of the above--but it's not a very good choice, because I always hate to vote on legislation before I see it.

2. I've seen the numbers, and we can do it this year, and still have a balanced budget. We still need to work on efforts to control spending, and maximize our economy in rebound. We can do it, and like I say, there are some issues I want to address, like controlling the price and cost of Medicaid budgets. We can look there first.

3. [Epic pause] Wow. That's a big question. I haven't been here five years, but I'm trying to think back. I can give smart answers, but I can't give a ... I don't know.

4. It's that I'm thoughtful, I look at all sides of the issues, I work hard--I don't know which of those would work the best. I'm hard working, I guess.

For more information on Kathy Garrett, visit kgarrett.com.

Sean Spence, Democrat

1. Yeah, I'm going have to get back to you on all four of these questions. (Informed that it is a pop quiz). Yeah, I'm not really interested in doing that.

2. No answer.

3. No answer.

4. No answer.

For more information on Sean Spence, visit vote4spence.com.

Dave Baumann, Republican

Mr. Baumann did not return numerous phone calls from BW, so he was not able to complete his quiz before press time.

1. No answer.

2. No answer.

3. No answer.

4. No answer.

For more information on Dave Baumann, visit baumannforsenate.org.

Kate Kelly, Democrat

Initially Kate Kelly refused to take the quiz, but then four days later called BW and agreed to participate.

1. I'm going to say 'C' (none of the above), because I'm assuming that the context is Idaho, since I'm a candidate for the Idaho State Senate. At this time in Idaho, probably neither.

2. Through a combination of increase revenue from existing revenue sources, and more efficient government that will cut costs. We need to look at sentencing reform, which might help our corrections cost, and then when all that is done we may need to look at other funding sources.

3. (20 second pause) I'd say the funding legislation. But do you want a bill? This is another open to interpretation ... I'm just going to say the appropriations legislation. I mean appropriations and revenue legislation. It's budget.

4. My goodness, there's an RV on fire! It's a breaking news story. [Pause] Anyway, my talent would be advocacy and an ability to compromise and collaborate.

For more information on Kate Kelly, visit katekellysenate.org.