We know Bryan Steil likes cheese curds. His campaign's Twitter feed shows him holding a bag to celebrate #NationalCheeseDay on June 4.
The presumptive Republican frontrunner in the Congressional 1st District race likes Jimmy John's, too. He shared a photo of his sandwich June 9 and quipped, "If only our government was half as efficient as @jimmyjohns... #FreakyFast."
Perusing his Twitter feed reveals something about Steil's diet but little about his positions on important issues--from trade policy to health care to national defense. Beyond Twitter, his public pronouncements haven't been particularly informative, either. The "issues" section of his website is scant on details, though it does declare his support for the Second Amendment.
Voters deserve to know more about the frontrunner's positions, especially now that he's received House Speaker Paul Ryan's endorsement. Steil will benefit from Ryan's war chest and campaign connections, leaving Steil's opponents at a significant disadvantage.
As a former Ryan aide, Steil may share many of Ryan's beliefs, but Ryan's struggle to reconcile traditional GOP positions with the party's protectionist wing has created a confusing political landscape. That makes it all the more important for Steil to articulate where he stands within his party.
We've echoed the chorus of denunciations aimed at one of Steil's competitors, Paul Nehlen, over Nehlen's racist remarks. But there's no question what Nehlen, a big Trump supporter, thinks. He's made clear his silly belief that Ryan is part of some conspiracy to undermine U.S. interests.
Another competitor, Nick Polce, offers his views through several YouTube videos, getting into policy minutia on health care, Social Security and taxation.
One of the best ways to flesh out differences among the candidates is for them to debate, and voters should demand it.
On the Democratic side of the Congressional 1st District race, Randy Bryce and Cathy Myers plan to debate July 8 at Badger High School in Lake Geneva. They also plan to debate in Janesville later in July. They clearly oppose GOP policies and haven't been shy in explaining how they'd run things differently if elected.
There's still plenty of time before the Aug. 14 Republican primary for Steil to agree to debates and expound on his policy positions. In his defense, he entered the game late and announced his candidacy only after Ryan decided not to run for re-election.
But asked whether Steil plans to offer a more substantive platform, his communications director insisted Steil is making his positions known through his website, radio interviews and gatherings. "We've definitely have been out there, and Bryan's been going around and talking about the issues, and we've done a couple grassroots forums as well," Andrew Iverson said.
That's not a promising answer.
Candidates must remember elections serve democracy, not the candidates. A healthy democracy requires an informed electorate. Voters want to know what candidates think about the nation's problems and exactly how they plan to solve them. They don't care about a candidate's sandwich selection during a campaign stop.
Editorials are written by the Opinion Page editor expressing the opinions of The Gazette. Editorials are separate from news articles, which are written by news reporters and do not include the opinions of the author.