Monday, October 13, 2008

A Push Call?

I received an interesting phone call this evening concerning my state legislative race. I live in House District 63, which was decided in 2006 by 47 votes. JP Pomnichowski won that race and is running against her 2006 opponent, Tom Burnett. This is one of the most hotly contested races in the state and might well decide who controls the legislature this spring.

Given that all politics are local in Montana and we are a lightly populated state, I took the opportunity to meet both candidates. I enjoyed meeting both and felt either would do a good job. I made a tentative decision concerning who I liked best, but was open to being persuaded by either side before making my final choice in November.

Tonight, I received what I can only term as a push call. On the caller ID, the identifier came up as "Name Not Found". In fact, these folks have been calling us all day trying to reach us. The phone number was listed as: "1-140-600-0000." The caller did not identify themselves, but merely said that one of the two candidates was bad for Bozeman for this and that. They then asked me if I would promise not to vote for candidate X on Election Day. I simply said, "Fascinating" and then the caller hung up.

I have no problem with negative advertising. I want to know all the information--good and bad--before deciding for whom I vote. In fact, one of the reasons I refuse to vote early is because I want to make sure I don't miss any information that might sway my vote.

But this phone call irritated me. The group did not identify itself, did not have a phone number where I might call them back, and ducked cowardly behind the caller ID of "Name Not Found". If you are going to attack a candidate, a person who is running for office and trying to serve their state/country, then that candidate and the voters have the right to know who is broadcasting the negative messages. How can I evaluate this information fairly and justly as a voter if I can't figure out who sponsored the message in the first place? Television advertisements require the sponsor to identify themselves. Phone callers should be required to do the same, and I think the state legislature should seriously consider sponsoring legislation to require just that.

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