Bringing up issues of hunger and poverty in 2008 congressional elections
Post by Carlos Navarro - New Mexico BFW State Coordinator
The news of the pending resignation of Sen. Trent Lott this morning means that there will be at least six vacancies in the U.S. Senate in the 2008 election. Also announcing their retirements are Sens. Larry Craig of Idaho, John Warner of Virginia, Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, Wayne Allard of Colorado and Pete Domenici of New Mexico.
Sen. Domenici's departure will have a significant domino effect on the state's delegation in the U.S. House, as Reps. Heather Wilson, Steve Pearce and Tom Udall will be leaving their seats to run for the vacant Senate post. There could be defections from the House in the other states with a Senate vacancy, with members of Congress like Rep. Mark Udall in Colorado, and possibly Tom Davis of Virginia and Chip Pickering of Mississippi, pondering a move to the other side of Capitol Hill.
And according to Stuart Rothenberg of the Rothenberg Political Report, Reps. Deborah Pryce and Ralph Regula of Ohio, Jim Ramstad of Minnesota, Rick Renzi of Arizona, Ray Lahood of Illinois and Terry Everett of Alabama are leaving the House at the end of their current terms.
But what does this mean for Bread for the World members? Like every election, the open seats give us an opportunity to raise the issue of hunger and poverty before the congressional candidates (just as as The ONE campaign is doing with the presidential candidates with its ONE Vote 08 initiative). And even if we don't have an open seat in our congressional district or our state, we can still bring up the issues of hunger and poverty to the incumbents and their challengers.
Here are a list of possible actions for the upcoming elections:
1) Find out who is running in the primaries.
2) Read about the candidate's positions on the issues in the newspaper or monitor television and radio coverage.
3) Try to make contact with the candidates, either personally, through a letter, or through their campaigns. Sometimes the campaign website has an address where you can reach the candidate or a top aide. Or find out if the candidates are taking part in any public forums, debates or call-in shows. It's important to know where they stand on hunger and poverty-related issues. A good place to start is the Millennium Development Goals, which will be the subject of our Offering of Letters in 2008. Or you can bring up the subject of food insecurity in our own country. But just as important is to let them know about the work of our organization. Name recognition is going to be very important when this candidate is already in office.
4.) Vote in the primary and the general elections
And keep in mind that Bread for the World is a non-partisan organization, so focus on the issues themselves and as much as possible please avoid taking an openly partisan approach to your election activism.
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