We have received a letter to the editor which we reprint below with our response.
One of our past Chairman of York County Action, once said at a meeting, “I don’t see any difference between Republicans and Democrats. He later relented and changed that to, “with some Republicans, I can hardly see a difference between them and the Democrats.” Our Value Voter Guide aims to show the differences to help you choose who to vote for on election day.
But it isn’t a perfect guide. Its major flaw, is that it relies on the voluntary participation of the candidates for office, in order to show voters the differences between the candidates. If some candidates skip questions and get a lower grade, that’s their business. Ours (ie. you Dear Reader, and our reader who wrote to us, Mary) is to do our best to choose who to vote for, in spite of that.
In this post, we show how unhappy this one readers (Mary) is, with the latest Value Voter Guide, and our reply.
Again we reminder our readers that Tuesday is election day. We hope you understand the importance of not just voting, but doing so with an informed conscience. That does NOT mean you should only vote for the candidates who perfectly match 100% of your faith and beliefs. Rather, you should vote form the alternatives you have, for the candidates who come closest. We pray you’ll vote, and do so with an informed conscience, and we hope you find our Value Voter Guide helpful. Here now, the Letter to the Editor of Mary (but first – we show you the most up to date copy of what actually ran in The York Daily Record and The York Dispatch – the ninth year of publishing a Value Voters Guide” (circulation on 11/1: in excess of 37,000):
Letter to the Editor of Mary
Since pro-abortion forces are now challenging pro-life laws in the state courts, the vote for the two pro-life Superior Court judges is critical. The Democratic judicial nominees are endorsed by pro-abortion PACs, such as Planned Parenthood. And they support abortion throughout pregnancy. The Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation PAC voter guide recommended the two Republican candidates.
Your guide is Not helpful. Giving a “D” to the two pro-life candidates helps elect the pro-abortion judges. It makes them look the same as the Democratic candidates. I urge you to re-consider how you list candidates. If it makes you feel good that your guide was published in the paper—and harms pro-life candidates, what are you trying to accomplish? Having worked to elect pro-life candidates for over 30 years, it makes me ill. PA will become like NY, if Christians don’t use wisdom and realize the result of their actions. Please feel free to contact me, if you want to discuss this further.
Sincerely, Mary (last name withheld)
Editor Reply to Mary
First, we want to thank you for being a reader of our York County Action e-newsletter. Second, we want to thank you for circulating our e-newsletter to so many people. Seeing as how you do not appear to approve of today’s issue, it is somewhat confusing as to why you would emerge with today’s first place award for the most “forwards” of our newsletter. We strongly encourage our other readers to emulate your example and help pass the word.
Now, we must tell you that we share your frustration that so many candidates don’t answer surveys like the one we sent to them all, or, as the two Superior Judge candidates did, they do not answer most of the questions, earning a “zero” score for each unanswered question.
It is one of our biggest goals to see more candidates ignore the policy of candidate for President, John F. Kennedy, in 1960. Asked about his faith, he claimed Thomas Jefferson had said there was a “wall of separation” between Church and State.” Similarly, the two candidates you cite – neither of whom you named – avoided answering critical questions posed by our Candidate Survey.
Two important facts. It was not us who “gave” anyone a grade. It is the sum total of the score they earned by how they answered – or failed to answer – our questions. If they got an answer wrong (from our perspective as what our name states – Conservative, Christian), or did not answer, or marked “undecided,” these are all scored as “zero.”
What grammar school, high school or college student in America thinks not answering questions on a test, gets him a good grade?
Thomas Jefferson did not say the government stopped people in the public square from speaking about their faith and beliefs. Instead he was saying that we the citizens, are being protected AGAINST the government imposing a religion – or no religion – on all of us citizens.
When candidates run for office, if they prefer to not speak about their philosophy or as in the case of John F. Kennedy in 1960 about his faith, that’s their right. But its our right, to look for candidates who are willing to speak out and whose views are closest to our own.
We should render unto Ceaser what is Caesar’s. That means people of faith have a duty to vote, and to vote for the candidates who come closest to their own views. It doesn’t mean you should only vote for “A” rated candidates, or candidates who exactly and precisely, match 100% what you believe. We have to compromise and do our best to find the candidate running for an office, who comes the closest of those available on the ballot, to what we believe.
Nor is this a simple math challenge. One person may vote for the candidate whose favorite President was Ronald Reagan, and ignore all the rest. Someone else may vote negative – that is, they see one candidate does not go “regularly” to church, and ignore all the rest that they like and agree with and vote for that candidate’s opponent.
We are trying to say, it is up to you to use the value voter guide as you wish.
But it is also up to the candidates running, to tell us their views.
If a candidate won’t do that, then there will be some who will not vote for the candidate.
For an example of someone who did it right, we direct you to President Donald Trump.
Trump made appearances at the conferences of conservative and faith-based organizations. He spoke about their issues in the primary and also during the general election. He gave our readership, every reason to work for him, donate to him and vote for him. It is why he won.
If candidates running for judge want to pretend that it is some violation of some ethics rule that none of them can ever cite, that’s their business, how they want to run for office.
We have said repeatedly in our e-newsletter and website, there is no such prohibition. In fact, to the contrary. If you read our publication you will find the exact citations of the Supreme court majority opinion written by Antonin Scalia that stipulates no one can restrict a judicial candidate from speaking about his faith or his beliefs, or answering survey questions like ours.
Note the irony Dear Mary. Both of the candidates whose names you puzzlingly avoided mentioning – Megan King and Christylee Peck – named Antonin Scalia as their favorite Supreme Court Justice.
Christylee Peck answered 4 of our 12 questions, not enough to get a score of “A” or “B” on the CCC Value Voter Guide. Megan King answered 5 out of our 12 questions. They both rated a “C” versus their Democrat opponents’ “D” and “C”. If you read their answers, you would most likely have found you agree with them on all (4 for Christlee Peck, 5 for Megan King) of their answers. Did you get that far, Dear Mary?
For their original survey as we posted it on 5/20, as they sent it in: Superior Court Judge Candidate Megan King and Superior Court Judge Candidate Christy Lee Peck. Note: the York/CCC board and advisers decided three years ago that they did not want to give out “F” grades to anyone so it is A, B or C, with the D reserved for “Did not respond.”
Would you give a higher grade than “C” for someone who did not answer the majority of the questions on the test? Most people would give such a test, a rating of “F” not the more generous “C” that we give to those who at least participate in our survey.
Rather than blame the group giving the test, perhaps you should write to any GOP (or Democrat) candidate who won’t answer questions like the ones we asked, and ask them why they are avoiding answers to questions some voters want to know about?
Ask them for a specific counter (ie. a case citation) to the Supreme Court majority opinion written by Antonin Scalia, that says it is OK to answer such questionnaires.
A second and later federal court case was in Eastern District, PA, brought by Pennsylvania Family Institute and the predecessor organization of Conservative Christian Center – ACTION. Again, the court ruled that any prohibition on a judicial candidate’s free speech right to answer such survey questions as the two plaintiff’s in the case asked, was unconstitutional and was struck down by the court.
Rebecca Warren, the May, 2019 primary candidate for Superior Court who spoke at the CCC Candidate Forum, explained this splendidly. Our audience was told by a surrogate for one of the Superior Court Judge Candidates, that they could not answer the questions because it would be unethical to do so.
Rebecca Warren, who had earned a perfect “A” rating by her answers on our survey, took her turn to speak, and cited the exact ruling by the courts which refuted this assertion. Rebecca Warren understood that her opponent’s surrogate, had just called her (Rebecca) and CCC “unethical” as her excuse to dodge our questions. Her point remains unrebuted to this day. The federal courts have upheld our right to ask these questions and the candidate’s right to answer them.
Matt Smith, a veteran and attorney, and the GOP nominee for Court of Common Pleas in Cumberland County, similarly answered a question on this very topic as the only judicial candidate at our Cumberland Candidate Forum, who knew the law addressing this matter.
If candidates for judge are unfamiliar with the law, then (a) they ought not to claim to know what they are ignorant about and (b) they will hopefully hire clerk’s to help them in what they are not familiar with. Best of all, is to learn from the citations quoted by more experienced attorneys like Rebecca Warren and Matt Smith, among many others.
You will note that Matt Menges, like other GOP nominees last year who won and are now serving on the Court of Common Pleas, do not offer any objection to our questions. Matt Menges earned an “A” rating for the second time in running for this position and carries that rating now as the GOP nominee.
Mary, we agree with everything you wrote in the first part of your message, and strongly urge you to contact judicial candidates in the future, who won’t speak about their faith and beliefs by answering survey questions like we asked.
As far as speaking out for the two candidates you like, we need to remind you that Conservative Christian Center is recognized as a non-profit organization by the IRS under section 501/c/4 of their code. As a public policy non-profit, we don’t endorse candidates. We don’t criticize the answers candidates give at our meetings. We never have.
We note that in your letter to the editor, you cite a “political action committee” that you agree with. That’s our point – they are a PAC which endorses and supports candidates. CCC is not. The law is what it is. There are plenty of conservative and pro-Christian groups which are NOT political action committees and hence, do not endorse and support candidates for office.
However, if the candidates do not speak out on the issues conservatives are interested in, then we must sadly tell you Dear Mary, that their chances of winning elections in America as well as in Pennsylvania and here in York County, are much less.
We thank you for writing and especially recommend to our readers, what you said in your first paragraph.
A former Statesman of the Year of York County Action/CCC, retired State Rep. Will Tallman, came to the York Candidate Forum and Statesman of the Year Breakfast in October, for the express purpose of speaking out for the two candidates for Pennsylvania Superior Court Judge, Megan King and Christylee Peck. He said it would be a major setback for constitutional government, if they lost. He strongly urged value voters, to choose them on election day.
We are sorry to disappoint you Dear Mary, by our not being a political action committee or a branch of the Republican Party, but as the great philosopher Popeye said, “I am what I am.” Seriously: we anticipate that our ad and the distribution of the Value Voter Guide this year to the largest audience in nine years, will largely benefit the more conservative candidates who are on the ballot. If you are looking for justification for a straight-line party line vote, then we must sadly tell you, it appears you came through the wrong door.
We simply pass along to our readers, the answers we received from the candidates – with our questions being the ones of interest to conservative, church-going value voters who we want to show up at their polling place on election day. We believe raising the questions we do, boosts such vote turnout.
We urge those candidates who want to appeal to the value voters, to address their concerns by answering our questions. If they choose to ignore such questions they simply diminish their chances of getting a large vote from this group. When it comes to voting remember to ASK. Ask and thou shalt receive. Seek and ye shall find. Knock and the door will be opened to you.
And dear Mary, please consider the possibility that there are actually some candidates for office – in both parties – who might not like you, not like or share your views, and have no desire to talk to you. That doesn’t mean you should never vote for them. We should all vote not for the “lesser of two evils” but rather, for the candidate who comes closest to our views of those available on the ballot. What this means, is that they will receive a smaller percentage of the vote of this group. By their choice, by their actions, by their words. Not our doing, Dear Mary.
Those of our readers who agree with our mission and who value our guide, will we hope, help this cause by passing out the Value Voter Guide and of course, share your own opinion about who are the best candidates. Thanks again Dear Mary, for writing a thoughtful message and sharing your views, and for being a reader.