Why We Publish a Value Voter Guide

A Response to Criticism of the Twice Annual Value Voters Guide of
Conservative Christian Center and our Stand for Principle

By Ross Cleveland, South Central PA Coordinator, Conservative Christian Center

Ross Cleveland, accepting appointment as Conservative Christian Center South Central PA Coordinator at the first CCC meeting in Cumberland County on 12/1/16. He had been an Action of PA Cumberland County and State Director.

There have been two email “blasts” to GOP leadership, elected officials and candidates in York County criticizing the “Value Voters Guide” of Conservative Christian Center, as originally published for the May 2019 primary and then in advance of the 2019 November, general election (click HERE to see the version that was run in the York Daily Record and the York Dispatch on Fri. 11/1).

The two email “blasts” criticizing CCC and which contained numerous factual inaccuracies, were both signed by Alison Blew, a candidate on the ballot in the May primary (her first memo) and then as the GOP nominee.  We understand numerous phone calls on the same topic were made and additonal emails sent to persuade people.

Like some other candidates, both Democrat and Republican, she was not one of the 5 candidates for the November election (and many more in the primary) who received our highest score of “A” or “B” based upon their answers to the survey questions we asked.

The most popular literature at polling places on election day every year. This year, between the mailings to GOP voters and ads in the 2 biggest newspapers in the county we reached an historic high of over 40,000 circulation of the Guide. This also generated more criticism than ever before. Some don’t like Christian conservatives asking questions.

Our purpose here is to correct what she circulates as “facts” but which are not.

First, CCC does not make any attempt to determine if someone is a Christian or not, nor do we ask any theological question.  Candidates are asked if they go to Church, the same as we have asked for many years.  The answer is worth 10 points, or down to zero.  We do not believe this is a “conservative versus liberal” or “Republican versus Democrat” question.  Contrary to her claim, CCC did not impugn her integrity or in any way question her or anyone’s faith.

She was appalled that she got the same score as pro-abortion Democrats?  She is the one who filled out the questionnaire.  

There’s nothing misleading or dishonest about our survey as she claims.  There’s nothing disingenuous, to use her word.  It is straightforward. 

The complainant’s opponent answered the survey too.  She too, got a “C” rating.  But let’s look closer – and we urge everyone to do that with our Voter Guide.

The Democrat opponent answered the survey question about abortion the same way she did – against abortion.  It is not true that we did anything to the answers.  We simply reported how each candidate replied and published their answer.

In that race, the Democrat, Sandra Harrison answered 2 questions “wrong” according to our conservative Christian views.  Wrong includes: you didn’t answer.  You were undecided.  Or you don’t agree with us.  While the Democrat got 3 wrong (from our vantage point, lets remember), the Republican nominee got 4 wrong. 

The person who counted the ballots, a volunteer who has done this for the past 3 years (Bob), simply reported on the Survey that was published for all to see, the two candidate’s answers to straightforward questions of interest to church-going, conservative-minded, values voters in York County.

As to answers that we think are right, the Democrat got 7 of our questions right.  Her GOP opponent, answered right 6 times. 

The “attack piece” on CCC did not report this, but instead make it appear that the answers were rigged somehow or not counted fairly.

So the Guide you have in front of you today shows you, the Democrat is graded “wrong” on only 3, versus this GOP candidate getting it wrong 4 times.

Again, we reminder the reader, these “right” and “wrong” answers are from the vantage point of Conservative Christian Center.

Although both candidates had the same “C” rating, the fact is, the Democrat narrowly edged out the Republican with 7 correct answers versus 6.

Now, if the GOP candidate were willing to speak out on the issues of concerns to conservative-minded, church-going Value Voters and if her answers matched their views on the 4 questions she did not answer, then she would have scored much better on the Value Voter Guide.

Nothing was withheld, censored, altered or changed, as the one GOP candidate states in her attacks on the Value Voters Guide, CCC, and our vote tabulator.

The complaint is stated in a breathless fashion, as if this is the first time a GOP primary or general election candidate, did not want to answer questions of interest to conservatives.

We addressed this every year in our Survey Guide, as follows (small print, bottom of inside of the brochure):

“As happens every year, some candidates ignored our Questionnaire which earned them our lowest rating of “D” for did not respond. One cited the ‘dogcatcher rule’ as we call it, ie. ‘the office I seek does not require a position on abortion (or whatever questions they didn’t want to answer).  Our rebuttal: we’d like to know who will speak out for our issues and values before we vote.  We believe public office is an opportunity to champion our values, not dodge them.  Someone we admire said ‘if you deny Me before men, I’ll deny you when you stand before My Father.’”

The individual who actually marked up the survey responses, is not a political activist except if being a board member of Conservative Christian Center, and the one who tabulates the surveys twice a year, counts for that.  It is very unfair to him, to make public accusations that he has engaged in unfair or dishonest behavior, for simply tallying up the survey responses as he does each year.

It seems to us that all candidates ought to campaign based upon issues and their own beliefs and qualifications, and not based upon false attacks on those who ask the same questions of all candidates, year after year, like Conservative Christian Center. 

In fact, this kind of an attack could easily be construed as an attempt to suppress conservative value voters turnout and suppress our free speech rights.

The CCC Value Voters Guide gives our target audience- church going, conservative minded, values voters, a reason to show up at the polling place every primary and general election.

According to the Pew Research Foundation, the percentage of church-going Christians who vote in elections has declined for ten years, while the percentage of Atheist, Agnostic and Muslim voters has increased.  We’d like to arrest the decline of the faith based community and increase their participation in voting and in civic and good citizenship.

Rather than being attacked for this laudable, public policy purpose, CCC should be commended.  In past years, CCC has in fact, been commended for this non-partisan work by both Democrat and Republican candidates.

This is the reason and purpose for free speech.  To enable self-government.  Any attempt to silence our free speech rights, such as the recent attacks on CCC and its Value Voters Guide, should be denounced by everyone, not embraced by one political party looking to defend candidates who score poorly, by attacking the non-partisan group of volunteers who asked the questions.

The disappointed, “C” rated candidate did in fact, express the wish to speak to CCC leadership.  She wanted the highest score, regardless of how she had answered the survey. 

Now she makes it appear that something nefarious was going on, because the group did not wish to meet with her for that purpose.

Lawyers call this an “ex parte” hearing, where just one side gets to speak to the Judge, without the other side being present.  It is considered very unfair and generally, is strictly prohibited.

The requested meeting to ask CCC to alter the Survey results for this one candidate, sounded very unfair to the other candidates.  We don’t want to show anyone favoritism, however much they threaten us or seem upset.  And we did not.  And we never have, not for anyone.

The claim was made in writing that CCC’s survey counter (one person operating under the policy of the board), quote “pick(s) winners and losers instead of assigning a rating based on true Christian values.” 

That’s unfair and untrue.  Your rating – A, B or C, is based on your answers, period.  And is right there in the Value Voter Guide you have, same as the previous 5 editions in three years.

The claimed was made that our survey counter does “mark ‘undecided for some Democratic candidates, they did not publish some of my responses, making it look like I did not answer those questions.”

Not true, and totally unfounded.  Completely fabricated.  The Guide as published for the May primary and again now for the November general election, clearly shows an n “asterisk” means no answer.  A “u” means undecided.  We grade those the same as a wrong answer – zero points, ie. not any points.  The same as students get in grammar school, high school and college.

And just to make clear – this new guide is only different from the Primary Election issue, where we dropped those who lost, and added in a few who just now replied to our survey.

The attack on CCC’s survey counter said “I believe they did not like the answers I gave, so they chose not to publish them.” 

Again, not true.  Her complete survey as she filled it out, is published on our website on May 20 (search in the article and click the link, for “Allison Blew.” 

If you go to the blog section of our CCC website you can see it – the article written by Bob Cosgrove, who counted the survey results.  Her entire survey is right there along with everyone else’s as Bob – a volunteer – scanned them and uploaded them.  Which took him many hours of volunteer work by the way.  Same work he did last year, the year before and so on.

It is not correct as was stated by the disappointed candidate, that CCC didn’t publish what she said.  She is not being accurate or fair, saying we altered anything or were unfair to her in any way.

She then goes on to show how confused she is about the Superior Court race.  The candidates in those cases did not use “the dogcatcher rule” as their excuse for not answering, as she flat out states.

Instead, several candidates who did not answer, claimed that it is unethical for them to answer.  That was rebutted at our May Candidate Forum by primary candidate Rebecca Warren, who cited the federal court rulings that said candidates can indeed, answer controversial, public policy questions. 

Go to our website and scroll down to the October 16 blog post about our Candidate Forum earlier in October in Cumberland. 

We report how Matt Smith did the same thing Rebecca Warren did.  He rebutted the other Judicial candidates who claim they can’t answer our survey, cannot speak about any issues we want to know about, because it would be unethical for them to do so.  Not true!

So, we saw that candidate for Judge in my own Cumberland county, Matt Shine, knows the law.  We saw that May, 2019 primary candidate for Judge, Rebecca Warren, knows the law.  They read the court case ruling.  They can cite it.  And here in York, we know that GOP nominee for the local court, Matt Menges, also knows the law, which is why he has an “A” rating.

Other “A” rated candidates of the GOP, who also knows the law, ran and won and are now duly elected Judges on the Court of Common Pleas.

So, you be the judge.  It’s your vote on November 5.  You have some candidates who say the same thing, year after year.  We don’t want to answer some of your questions.  We cannot answer.  Or they answer nothing.  We just want to talk about our three favorite topics, they appear to be saying: me, myself and I.

And they all speak as if “everyone knows this is true.”  It isn’t true.  Nor is it new.

They say we are being unethical to ask questions like these, and that our “A” rated candidates – like Matt Smith in Cumberland and Matt Menges here in York, and back in May, Rebecca Warren, and the dozens of candidates in year’s past – all were unethical to answer all our questions.

Please note, most of the ones who didn’t want to answer are Democrats, but there are Republicans in there too.  Who thinks you should rate someone who won’t answer questions, the same as the candidate (or student) who answers correctly? 

Another of the falsehoods being circulated to Republican leaders in York County, is that one candidates (the one attacking us) was “targeted.”

As the bible says, God is no respecter of persons.  He’ll send you to heaven or hell based on your performance, not His bias.

Blaming the scorekeeper – in this case the volunteer who did the tally for the past several years (his 6th guide) – is unfair.

The disappointed, “C” rated GOP candidate, also claims that the CCC board member who tallied up her answers, had attacked her character.  There is no basis for such a claim.

Let me say clearly: we are proud to carry on the tradition of York County ACTION, today the name of our CCC e-newsletter, and in the past, the name of a political action committee.

As a past leader and state board member of the old Action of PA, I know that all of us are standing on the shoulders of giants – like Jay McKiernan, Dr. Ken Gibson, Ron Cohen and others, in carrying on their work. 

I am proud we issue a regular newsletter bearing their name, York County Action.  The person who criticized our Value Voter Guide, never spoke at or attended a meeting or participated in any way.

So I agree with her that we need new leaders.  But don’t volunteer to help us if you don’t agree with our mission.  We don’t tilt the score to help any political party and we always try to be respectful and fair to candidates from both parties who participate in our surveys and our meetings.

But the suggestion by one upset GOP nominee, that our board member should somehow be punished or thrown out for his volunteer work on the twice a year Survey Guide is very unfair.

Conservative Christian Center and its York County Action e-newsletter, do not exist just to rubber stamp approve whoever the Republican Party nominates for office.

This kind of attack has never happened in nine years of our doing such election Voter Guides.

We hope this post has cleared up the incorrect information that has been circulated about the Value Voters Guide of the Conservative Christian Center.

The criticism of the Value Voter Guide is louder this year than in past years for one simple reason.  It has the widest distribution of any past edition, most likely after the half page ad in the York Daily Record of 11/1/19 (page 11), the mailing to thousands of GOP “Super Voters” (who voted in 4 consecutive GOP primaries) and bulk distribution by our supporters at Churches on Sundays and in front of some polling places this Tuesday election day, of at least 25,000 in York County.

We invite you to check it out for yourself at our website ConservativeChristianCenter.org, by picking up a copy of today’s (Friday 11/1) York Daily Record and clipping out our half page ad on page 11, or by writing to our local group in York, at York@ConservativeChristianCenter.org or to me at SouthCentralPA@ConservativeChristianCenter.org.

Ross Cleveland is a Realtor in Cumberland County and a former schoolteacher.  Ross was on the board of the Cumberland Action and on its state board (Americans for Christian Traditions in our Nation) and is the volunteer CCC Coordinator for the South Central PA region, and is also an ex-officio member of the board of York County Conservative Christian Center and its e-newsletter, York County Action.

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