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Incumbents snub ‘political courage’ test

CARSON CITY — A nonpartisan group that circulated an election-season "political courage" test didn’t get any responses by a Wednesday deadline from Nevadans seeking re-election to Congress or the state Legislature.

With responses to the Project Vote Smart test questions coming only from challengers, the return rates were 27 percent in the House races and 15 percent in the legislative contests. National averages for 2008 aren’t available.

The House rate is down from 35 percent in the 2006 elections, compared with a national average of 48 percent. The legislative candidate rate is up slightly from 13 percent in 2006. The national average was 26 percent in 2006.

Among 15 contenders for Nevada’s three House seats, only four splinter-party challengers completed the tests.

Among the 132 legislative candidates, 20 challengers responded. That included 10 Republicans, four Democrats and six minor-party candidates.

Brandon Horton of Project Vote Smart said voters lose out by not getting "a clear representation of where a candidate stands on the issues."

Horton said the test, while not perfect, helps voters who might not get an accurate idea of where candidates stand on issues based on their campaign statements and ads.

The courage test for congressional candidates focused on issues such as abortion, taxes, the federal budget, government reform, crime, education, guns, employment, environment and energy, health, immigration, international policy and national security.

Questions also dealt with Social Security, welfare and poverty and social matters such as same-sex marriages, Internet gambling and stem cell research.

The test for Nevada Senate and Assembly contenders focused on similar issues at the state level. Project Vote Smart says issues in the tests are "those that are consistently the top concerns of the American people and also likely to come up in the next legislative session."

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