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The vast majority of candidates for Illinois governor and U.S. congress don’t have the political courage to answer policy questions, according to a nonpartisan voter education organization.

The organization Vote Smart compiles issue positions of candidates running for governor and congress from across the country. Vote Smart Director of Elections and Candidates Peter McLaughlin said of 39 congressional candidates from Illinois, only eleven responded to 70 percent or more of the questions.

“However all the other candidates they either haven’t responded to us or they’ve told us that they’re not willing to give their positions, so they lack political courage,” McLaughlin said. “So we don’t grade candidates based off their answers, it’s just do they have the political courage and gave their issue positions, or do they not have political courage and hid their issue positions from the public.”

Of the state’s 39 candidates running for the U.S. House, 12 returned Vote Smart’s survey. Those who completed and returned the survey included five Republicans: David Merkle, Arthur Jones, Craig Cameron, John Elleson, William Fawell; and five Democrats: Sean Casten, Danny Davis, Jan Schakowsky, Kevin Gaither, Sara Dady. Independent candidate Thomas Rudbeck and Green Party candidate Randall Auxier also returned Vote Smart’s survey, the group said.

Of those running for Illinois governor, Vote Smart said Libertarian Kash Jackson was the sole gubernatorial candidate to respond.

When it comes to the candidates running for positions in the Illinois Legislature, the rate of political courage in returning the survey was even lower. Data provided by Vote Smart showed of 243 total candidates running for the Illinois House or Illinois Senate, 15 returned the 16-question survey, a return rate of 6 percent. Those were state Rep. Will Guzzardi, James Caffrey, Anne Stava-Murray, Tom Chlystek, Jill Blair, Amy Davis, Richard Cramsey, Jennifer McMillin, state Rep. Carol Ammons, Laura Ellman, Ann Gillespie, state Sen. Jule Morrison, Heidi Henry and David Simpson, all Democrats.

The only Republican to return Vote Smart’s survey was state Rep. Dan Brady.

“Candidates running for office is essentially like filling out a job résumé and we’re the ones hiring them so us as voters and citizens should know everything we possibly can about candidates in elections,” McLaughlin said.

McLaughlin said said regardless of the lack of responses from other candidates Vote Smart still compiles positions statements from media accounts and the candidates’ websites.

“The voters can still see where all their candidates stand on the issues even if their candidates are unwilling to take the political courage test themselves,” he said.

Information is available at


Greg Bishop reports on Illinois government and other statewide issues for INN. Bishop has years of award-winning broadcast experience, and previously hosted “The Council Roundup,” as well as “Bishop On Air,” a morning-drive current events talk show.

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